Three-Dimensional Microphase Separation and Synergistic Permeability in Stacked Lipid-Polymer Hybrid Membranes

Minjee Kang, Byeongdu Lee, Cecilia Leal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present new structures of soft-material thin films that augment the functionality of substrate-mediated delivery systems. A hybrid material composed of phospholipids and block copolymers adopts a multilayered membrane structure supported on a solid surface. The hybrid films comprise intentional intramembrane heterogeneities that register across multilayers. These stacked domains convey unprecedented enhancement and control of permeability of solutes across micrometer-thick films. Using grazing incidence X-ray scattering, phase contrast atomic force microscopy, and confocal microscopy, we observed that in each lamella, lipid and polymers partition unevenly within the membrane plane segregating into lipid- or polymer-rich domains. Interestingly, we found evidence that like-domains align in registry across multilayers, thereby making phase separation three-dimensional. Phase boundaries exist over extended length scales to compensate the height mismatch between lipid and polymer molecules. We show that microphase separation in hybrid films can be exploited to augment the capability of drug-eluting substrates. Lipid-polymer hybrid films loaded with paclitaxel show synergistic permeability of drug compared to single-component counterparts. We present a thorough structural study of stacked lipid-polymer hybrid membranes and propose that the presence of registered domains and domain boundaries impart enhanced drug release functionality. This work offers new perspectives in designing thin films for controlled delivery applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9120-9132
Number of pages13
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 14 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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