Lipid vesicles (liposomes):
The biomolecular applications of phospholipid vesicles are currently severely impeded by their poor structural stability. They are prone to fuse with one another in suspension, forming larger vesicles and a polydisperse size distribution. When they encounter solid substrates, they form bilayers on hydrophilic surfaces and monolayers on hydrophobic surfaces -- in both cases losing their integrity. In a recent breakthrough, this research has discovered a novel, versatile, exceptionally effective strategy to stabilize phospholipid vesicles in soluton, as well as to decorate solid surfaces with intact vesicles.
Movie 1: Vesicle-12nM-fusion
This epifluorescence movie illustrates that naked (unstabilized) liposomes fuse with each other and form giant liposomes when the volume fraction exceeds 3%.
Movie 2: Vesicle+Latex-128nM
This epifluorescence movie illustrates that nanoparticle-stabilized vesicles are protected against fusion up to exceptionally high volume fractions, in this case 32%. Extensions of this strategy allow one to stabilize thousands of vesicles on solid surfaces, forming patterns with micron-scale periodicity.