An atomic force microscope study of thermal behavior of phospholipid monolayers on mica

M. F. Luo, Y. L. Yeh, P. L. Chen, C. H. Nien, Y. W. Hsueh

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We observed by using atomic force microscope (AFM) phospholipid (1,2-dipalmitoyl- sn -glycero-3-phosphocholine) monolayers on mica being annealed and cooled to a selection of temperatures through steps of 2-4 °Cmin. The annealed phospholipid monolayers started to disappear at 45-50 °C and disappeared completely above 60-63 °C under AFM observation. The phospholipid monolayers reformed when the samples were cooled below 60 °C and developed from fractal into compact monolayer films with decreasing temperatures. Simultaneously the height of the reformed phospholipid films also increased with decreasing temperatures from 0.4 nm to the value before annealing. The observed thermal features are attributed to a phase-transition process that upon heating to above 45-50 °C, the lipids condensed in the monolayers transform into a low-density expanded phase in which the lipids are invisible to AFM, and the transformation continues and completes at 60-63 °C. The lipid densities of the expanded phase inferred from the dissociated area of the condensed phase are observed to be a function of the temperature. The behavior contrasts with a conventional first-order phase transition commonly seen in the Langmuir films. The temperature-dependent height and shape of the reformed phospholipid films during cooling are argued to arise from the adjustment of the packing and molecular tilting (with respect to the mica surface) of the phospholipids in order to accommodate more condensed phospholipids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number194702
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number19
StatePublished - 21 May 2006


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