Electrochemical and PM-IRRAS Studies of potential controlled transformations of Phospholipid layers on Au(111) Electrodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Sarah Horswell
  • V Zamlynny
  • HQ Li
  • AR Merrill
  • J Lipkowski

Colleges, School and Institutes


Chronocoulometry and photon polarisation modulation infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS) have been employed to study the fusion of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) vesicles onto a Au(111) electrode surface. The results show that fusion of the vesicles is controlled by the electrode potential or charge at the electrode surface (sigmaM). At charge densities of -15 microC cm(-2) <sigmaM <0 microC cm(-2), DMPC vesicles fuse to form a condensed film. When sigmaM <-15 microC cm(-2), de-wetting of the film from the electrode surface occurs. The film is detached from the electrode surface; however, phospholipid molecules remain in its close proximity in an ad-vesicle state. The state of the film can be conveniently changed by adjustment of the potential applied to the gold electrode. PM-IRRAS experiments demonstrated that the potential-controlled transitions between various DMPC states proceed without conformational changes and changes in the packing of the acyl chains of DMPC molecules. However, a remarkable change in the tilt angle of the acyl chains with respect to the surface normal occurs when ad-vesicles spread to form a film at the gold surface. When the bilayer is formed at the gold surface, the acyl chains of DMPC molecules are significantly tilted. The IR spectra have also demonstrated a pronounced change in the hydration of the polar head region that accompanies the spreading of ad-vesicles into the film. For the film deposited at the electrode surface, the infrared results showed that the temperature-controlled phase transition from the gel state to the liquid crystalline state occurs within the same temperature range as that observed for aqueous solutions of vesicles. The results presented in this work show that PM-FTIR spectroscopy, in combination with electrochemical techniques, is an extremely powerful tool for the study of the structure of model membrane systems at electrode surfaces.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-422
Number of pages18
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date1 May 2002
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2002