Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Stephen A. Sarles

Committee Members

C. Patrick Collier, Scott Lenaghan, Paul Dalhaimer, Eric Freeman


Synthetic lipid bilayers provide models of cell membranes to study biomolecular interactions and signal transduction. The droplet interface bilayer (DIB) is a highly versatile technique for assembling planar lipid membranes between water droplets in oil. The DIB method thus provides a unique capability for developing digital, droplet-based membrane platforms for rapid membrane characterization, drug screening and ion channel recordings. In this work, a new microfluidic system is presented that automates droplet generation, sorting, and sequential trapping in designated locations to enable rapid assembly of arrays of DIBs along with in situ electrical measurements. This platform provides repeatable processes for forming long-lasting bilayer arrays for numerous membrane-based applications. Studies on asymmetric lipid membranes are performed to understanding the effects of peptides on the disruption of asymmetric lipid membranes and intramembrane potential. In addition, an automated microfluidic array is applied to isolate and transform single cells to improve the ability to study gene transformation on an individual cell basis, with greater spatial and temporal resolution of each cell’s response.

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