Electrical method to quantify nanoparticle interaction with lipid bilayers

Randy P. Carney, Yann Astier, Tamara M. Carney, Kislon Voïtchovsky, Paulo H. Jacob Silva, Francesco Stellacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding as well as rapidly screening the interaction of nanoparticles with cell membranes is of central importance for biological applications such as drug and gene delivery. Recently, we have shown that "striped" mixed-monolayer-coated gold nanoparticles spontaneously penetrate a variety of cell membranes through a passive pathway. Here, we report an electrical approach to screen and readily quantify the interaction between nanoparticles and bilayer lipid membranes. Membrane adsorption is monitored through the capacitive increase of suspended planar lipid membranes upon fusion with nanoparticles. We adopt a Langmuir isotherm model to characterize the adsorption of nanoparticles by bilayer lipid membranes and extract the partition coefficient, K, and the standard free energy gain by this spontaneous process, for a variety of sizes of cell-membrane-penetrating nanoparticles. We believe that the method presented here will be a useful qualitative and quantitative tool to determine nanoparticle interaction with lipid bilayers and consequently with cell membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-942
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 26 2013


  • amphiphilic nanoparticles
  • black lipid membranes
  • cell membrane penetration
  • colloidal synthesis
  • electrophysiology
  • endocytosis
  • internalization
  • planar lipid bilayers
  • surface structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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