Soft nanostructured films for directing the assembly of functional materials

D. Steer, M. Kang, C. Leal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Lipids are a class of biological small molecules with hydrophilic and hydrophobic constituents forming the structural membranes in cells. Over the past century an extensive understanding of lipid biology and biophysics has been developed illuminating lipids as an intricate, highly tunable, and hierarchical soft-matter system. In addition to serving as cell membrane models, lipids have been investigated as microphase separated structures in aqueous solutions. In terms of applications lipids have been realized as powerful structural motifs for the encapsulation and cellular delivery of genetic material. More recently, lipids have also revealed promise as thin film materials, exhibiting long-range periodic nano-scale order and tunable orientation. In this review we summarize the pertinent understanding of lipid nanostructure development in bulk aqueous systems followed by the current and potential perturbations to these results induced by introduction of a substrate. These effects are punctuated by a summary of our published results in the field of lipid thin films with added nucleic acids and key results introducing hard materials into lipid nanostructured substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142001
Issue number14
StatePublished - Mar 8 2017


  • hybrid membranes
  • lipid
  • nanocomposite
  • nanomaterials
  • self-assembly
  • structure-directing agents
  • thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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