We report on the normal and lateral forces between controlled-density mono- and bilayers of phospholipid co-adsorbed onto hydrophobic and hydrophilic solid supports, respectively. Interactions between 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine layers were measured using an atomic force microscope. Notable features of the normal force curves (barrier heights and widths) were found to correlate with the thickness and density of the supported lipid layers. The friction and normal force curves were also found interrelated. Thus, very low friction values were measured as long as the supported layer(s) resisted the normal pressure of the tip. However, as the applied load exceeded the critical value needed for puncturing the layers, the friction jumped to values close to those recorded between bare surfaces. The lipid layers were self-healing between measurements, but a significant hysteresis was observed in the force curves measured on approach and retraction, respectively. The study shows the potential of using atomic force microscopy for lipid layer characterization both with respect to structure and interactions. It further shows the strong lubricating effect of adsorbed lipid layers and how this varies with surface density of lipids. The findings may have important implications for the issue of joint lubrication.
Grant, L.M., F. Tiberg