This work explores incorporating ferrofluids with droplet interface bilayer (DIB) membranes. Ferrofluids contain magnetic nanoparticles in solution with a stabilizing surfactant, providing a magnetically-responsive fluid. These fluids allow for remote mechanical manipulation of ferrofluid droplets through magnetic fields, and will allow for better control over the characteristics of networks of stimuli-responsive cellular membranes created through by DIB technique.
This work involves several phases. First, a suitable biocompatible ferrofluid is synthesized, containing a neutral pH and a biocompatible surfactant. Once a proper ferrofluid is identified, it is tested as the aqueous phase for the creation of DIB membranes. Interfacial membranes between ferrofluid droplets are created and compared to non-ferrofluid DIB membranes. The interfacial membrane between two ferrofluid droplets was tested for leakage and stability, and the electrical characteristics of the interfacial membrane were studied and compared to non-ferrofluid DIB membranes.
Once it is confirmed that the ferrofluid droplets do not negatively interfere with the formation of the artificial cellular membranes through the electrical measurements, the magnetically-responsive nature of the ferrofluid droplets are used to form large networks of DIB membranes through a simple magnetic field. These networks are easy to assemble and may be remotely manipulated, providing a significant step towards the rapid and simple assembly of DIB networks advancing towards the tissue scale.