• direct observation;
  • liposome;
  • optical microscopy;
  • small polar molecule


We show the bursting process of dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) liposomes in response to the addition of acetonitrile, a small toxic molecule widely used in the fields of chemistry and industry. The percentage of destroyed liposomes is reduced upon decreasing the acetonitrile fraction in the aqueous solution and vesicle bursting is not observed at volume ratios of 4:6 and below. This indicates that a high fraction of acetonitrile causes the bursting of liposomes, and it is proposed that this occurs through insertion of the molecules into outer leaflet of the lipid bilayer. The elapsed time between initial addition of acetonitrile and liposome bursting at each vesicle is also measured and demonstrated to be dependent on the volume fraction of acetonitrile and the vesicle size.