Simultaneous monitoring of electroformation of phospholipid vesicles by quartz crystal microbalance and optical microscopy
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The electroformation of giant vesicles from 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphocholine (DMPC) was monitored using quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and optical microscopy, simultaneously using a novel sample cell design. A gold-coated QCM crystal was used as one of the electrodes and an Indium-tin-oxide (ITO)-coated glass slide was used as the second electrode for electroformation. Increases in the frequency and decreases in the dissipation were observed immediately upon voltage application between the two electrodes, indicating the loss of lipid from the QCM surface. Concurrently, we observed vesicles on the QCM electrode surface by differential interference contrast (DIC)-optical microscopy. The lipid-coated substrates were measured with AFM at various stages in the electroformation, and a significant change in the morphology of the lipid film was observed. Ellipsometry was used to find the average thickness of lipid film. The QCM data were fitted to a viscoelastic model to determine the viscoelastic properties and time dependence of the film thickness. All methods used to determine film thickness give values in reasonable quantitative agreement. Differences between the methods are consistent with what one might expect due to what is actually measured in the individual techniques. The comparison between mass loss and observed vesicles suggest that the vesicles formed are first localized to the substrate and then slowly released into the solution. By comparing the mass lost from the lipid film, to the total surface area of lipid vesicles observed, it is apparent that only a relatively small fraction of the lipid goes into the production of unilamellar vesicles with sizes detectable with optical microscopy.
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