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Lipid membrane flexibility in protic ionic liquids

Miao, Shurui; Hoffmann, Ingo; Gradzielski, Michael; Warr, Gregory G.

Here, we determine by neutron spin echo spectrometry (NSE) how the flexibility of egg lecithin vesicles depends on solvent composition in two protic ionic liquids (PILs) and their aqueous mixtures. In combination with small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and fluorescent probe microscopy, we show that the bending modulus is up to an order of magnitude lower than in water but with no change in bilayer thickness or nonpolar chain composition. This effect is attributed to the dynamic association and exchange of the IL cation between the membrane and bulk liquid, which has the same origin as the underlying amphiphilic nanostructure of the IL solvent itself. This provides a new mechanism by which to tune and control lipid membrane behavior.
Published in: The journal of physical chemistry letters, 10.1021/acs.jpclett.2c00980, American Chemical Society