Urea-mediated anomalous diffusion in supported lipid bilayers
Anomalous diffusion increases over time from 15 s (turquoise) to 10 min (dark blue).
Diffusion in biological membranes is seldom simply Brownian motion; instead, the rate of diffusion is dependent on the time scale of observation and so is often described as anomalous. In order to help better understand this phenomenon, model systems are needed where the anomalous diffusion of the lipid bilayer can be tuned and quantified. We recently demonstrated one such model by controlling the excluded area fraction in supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) through the incorporation of lipids derivatized with polyethylene glycol. Here, we extend this work, using urea to induce anomalous diffusion in SLBs. By tuning incubation time and urea concentration, we produce bilayers that exhibit anomalous behaviour on the same scale as that observed in biological membranes.