Protein Manipulation in Lipid Bilayers using Surface Acoustic Waves

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The phospholipid bilayer that separates the internal cellular environment from the outside world presents an impervious barrier for the transport of large molecules and charged ions. Proteins located within this bilayer provide a mechanism for the passage of nutrients and waste products between the cytoplasm and the external environment. Further, they also play pivotal role in transmitting the cellular response to chemical changes such as the interaction with hormones, toxins, etc. It is not surprising that such proteins are of significant pharmaceutical interest. Significant progress in understanding the function of many membrane proteins has been hampered since they often change their structure, and lose their functionality, once removed from their membranous environment. Our group has a strong interest in developing new platforms and tools for studying such bilayer membranes and proteins. Here we propose to develop a new technique for manipulating such proteins whilst keeping them in their lipid bilayer environment. In particular, we wish to use the electric fields associated with evanescent waves (created using a modified surface acoustic wave device) to move charged proteins within the lipid bilayer. This represents the first step towards the facile manipulation of membrane proteins and which will eventually allow us to trap, move and separate proteins within the bilayer. The will be a significant breakthrough for the study of membrane proteins.


10 25 50

publication icon
Blakeston AC (2015) New poly(amino acid methacrylate) brush supports the formation of well-defined lipid membranes. in Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

publication icon
Dobrzanska DA (2013) Oxidation of tertiary amine-derivatized surfaces to control protein adhesion. in Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

publication icon
Al-Lawati Z (2013) Alignment of a Columnar Hexagonal Discotic Liquid Crystal on Self-Assembled Monolayers in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C

publication icon
Cheneler D (2011) Characteristics and durability of fluoropolymer thin films in Polymer Degradation and Stability

publication icon
Cheetham MR (2011) Concentrating membrane proteins using asymmetric traps and AC electric fields. in Journal of the American Chemical Society

publication icon
Stephens CJ (2011) Early stages of crystallization of calcium carbonate revealed in picoliter droplets. in Journal of the American Chemical Society

publication icon
Daskalakis N (2011) Driving bioenergetic processes with electrodes in Soft Matter

publication icon
Kendall JK (2010) Effect of the structure of cholesterol-based tethered bilayer lipid membranes on ionophore activity. in Chemphyschem : a European journal of chemical physics and physical chemistry

publication icon
Han X (2010) A self-assembly route for double bilayer lipid membrane formation. in Chemphyschem : a European journal of chemical physics and physical chemistry

publication icon
Weiss SA (2010) A study of cytochrome bo3 in a tethered bilayer lipid membrane. in Biochimica et biophysica acta

Description Through this research we integrated on chip surface acoustic waves into microfluidic systems for the manipulation of particles and bubbles in the size regime 1 to 20 um. We were able to demonstrate that we could use SAW to forma standing wave to :
i) create particles arrays - test-tubes without walls
ii) move particles in arrays in sequential manner
iii) use SAW device as a mixer
Exploitation Route For lab on chip device / manipulation of micro bubbles for separation / cleaning after functionalisation
Sectors Aerospace

Defence and Marine


Food and Drink





including Industrial Biotechology

Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The findings of this work have so far been primarily of academic impact. It has contributed to the growing amount of research on the integration of SAW devices into microfluidics. Translation of the impact of this into the CSEP options below is likely to be over many years.
First Year Of Impact 2005
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Cultural