Model membranes - How to characterize with QCM-D
Malin Edvardsson Mar 12, ’19 < 3 min

Model membranes - How to characterize with QCM-D

Model membranes are used in various fields of research, for example in the design and development of biosensor platforms, biomaterial coatings and drug delivery applications. Here we present examples of how these lipid-based systems can be characterized using QSense QCM-D technology.

An unsurpassed technology in the characterization of model membranes

QCM-D has been a standard technology in lipid-based research for about two decades1. Offering real-time information on mass, thickness and viscoelastic properties of surface adhering layers, the technol­ogy enables monitoring of interaction dynamics between lipids and the solid support. It also enables characterization of the formed lipid-based structures, e.g. analysis of

  1. lipid vesicles
  2. lipid monolayers
  3. lipid bilayers
  4. molecular interactions with lipid-based structures

Unveil lipid system structures and configurational changes

The key to be able to measure structural changes, such as the vesicle rupture and fusion process, lies in the ability of QCM-D to measure what is often referred to as “hydrated mass”. Whereas the “dry mass”, measured by for example optical techniques, refers to the mass of the molecules of interest, the hydrated mass includes both the molecules and the associated solvent. Monitoring the hydrated mass enables detection of conformational changes, such as layer swelling and collapse. In these structural rearrangements, the number of molecules at the surface is the same, but the amount of coupled solvent differs. In the characterization of lipid-based structures, this feature is very helpful as it enables the differenti­ation between for example lipids arranged as vesicles and lipids arranged as a bilayer, where the former structure will have large amounts of associated solvent, and the latter will have little.

Bilayer formation by QCM-D

Figure 1. Schematic illustration of lipid bilayer formation, monitored by QCM-D.


Download the overview to read more about how lipid model systems can be characterized using QSense QCM-D technology.

Overview  Characterization of model membranes with QSense QCM-D  Download


  1. Keller C. A. and Kasemo B., Biophys. J., 75 (3), 1397-1402, (1998)

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