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Impact of UV radiation on solid supported lipid bilayers/bulky lipids

Background:Biological membranes not only control the transfer of ions, proteins and other molecules into or out of a cell, but they also provide a natural barrier between the cell’s interior and the surrounding bulk solution whilst their thickness is only on the nanometers scale [3]. Due to the high relevance of lipid bilayers in vivo there, is a natural interest in modelling these systems in vitro and exploring their capabilities. Well-established methods for creating solid supported lipid bilayers (SLB) are the vesicle spreading method, as well as the Langmuir-Blodget- and Langmuir-Schäfer-method. Examining these model bilayers under space conditions and understanding the effect radiation has on molecules embedded within a bilayer, as well as the lipid matrix itself, will help gathering knowledge on biomarkers used for detecting life in space and estimating realistic conditions needed for small organisms to survive in extreme environments whilst being protected only by their cell membranes.

Project description

This Master’s project is part of an ongoing refinement process in lipid bilayer preparation and experiments for determining bilayer quality. Using the atomic force microscope surface topographies on a nm resolution are measured, giving insight into the lipid deposition process. With a well-established protocol in place, high-quality bilayers can be created and mixed with other molecules such as cholesterol, chlorophyll or β-carotene. These bilayers will be used for radiation-exposure experiments, which are accompanied by FTIR measurements to detect radiation damage and changes in molecular interaction.


  • Backgroundin physics and curiosity for interdisciplinary research
  • Desire to do hands-on lab work, also involving sample preparation in a biochemistry lab
  • A good mix of curiosity, enthusiasm and hard-working attitude
  • Basic knowledge in chemistry and/or biology would be helpful


Start: November 2020 (negotiable)