A microfluidic platform enabling optical monitoring of bilayer lipid membrane formation by a new monolayer folding process is described. The thermoplastic chips integrate dried lipid films that are rehydrated by microfluidic perfusion, which enables delivery of lipid-laden air bubbles across a membrane-supporting aperture. As in traditional Montal–Mueller bilayer formation, lipid monolayers are delivered independently to each side of the aperture, thereby allowing asymmetric lipid composition in the resulting bilayer to be achieved. Confocal microscopy is used to image the monolayer folding process, and reveals the growth and dynamics of asymmetric liquid-ordered domains during bilayer stabilization.
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