Encapsulating networks of droplet interface bilayers in a thermoreversible organogel

Elio J. Challita, Joseph S. Najem, Rachel Monroe, Donald J. Leo, Eric C. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The development of membrane-based materials that exhibit the range and robustness of autonomic functions found in biological systems remains elusive. Droplet interface bilayers (DIBs) have been proposed as building blocks for such materials, owing to their simplicity, geometry, and capability for replicating cellular phenomena. Similar to how individual cells operate together to perform complex tasks and functions in tissues, networks of functionalized DIBs have been assembled in modular/scalable networks. Here we present the printing of different configurations of picoliter aqueous droplets in a bath of thermoreversible organogel consisting of hexadecane and SEBS triblock copolymers. The droplets are connected by means of lipid bilayers, creating a network of aqueous subcompartments capable of communicating and hosting various types of chemicals and biomolecules. Upon cooling, the encapsulating organogel solidifies to form self-supported liquid-in-gel, tissue-like materials that are robust and durable. To test the biomolecular networks, we functionalized the network with alamethicin peptides and alpha-hemolysin (αHL) channels. Both channels responded to external voltage inputs, indicating the assembly process does not damage the biomolecules. Moreover, we show that the membrane properties may be regulated through the deformation of the surrounding gel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6494
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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