Monitoring supported lipid bilayers with n-type organic electrochemical transistors

Malak Kawan, Tania C. Hidalgo, Weiyuan Du, Anna Maria Pappa, Róisín M. Owens, Iain McCulloch, Sahika Inal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) have emerged as powerful model systems to study various membrane-governed cellular events. Conducting polymers are excellent materials to establish electrical communication with SLBs. However, forming SLBs that are defect-free on the existing library of electronic polymer films, which have not been designed to interface lipids, remains a challenge. Moreover, the existing polymers are predominantly p-type conductors, hindering the development of devices that can be superior to current technologies. In this work, we synthesized an n-type semiconducting polymer based on a naphthalene 1,4,5,8 tetracarboxylic diimide bithiophene (NDI-T2) backbone functionalized with bio-inspired, lysine-based side chains (L2). The lysine chains, that are oriented on the surface of the film, facilitated the assembly of the zwitterionic lipid vesicles into an SLB. The n-type polymer also proved to be an ideal channel material for the state-of-the-art bioelectronic transducer, i.e., organic electrochemical transistor (OECT). We used the n-type, accumulation mode OECTs to assess the quality of the SLB as well as to monitor the activity of a pore forming protein integrated into the SLB. Our work marks the first demonstration of a bio-functionalized n-type polymer, specifically designed for interfacing the lipid membrane, alongside the high operational stability in biologically relevant electrolytes and sufficient performance in microscale transistors for biosensing applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2348-2358
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Horizons
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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