Investigating how vesicle size influences vesicle adsorption on titanium oxide: a competition between steric packing and shape deformation
Understanding the adsorption behavior of lipid vesicles at solid–liquid interfaces is important for obtaining fundamental insights into soft matter adsorbates as well as for practical applications such as supported lipid bilayer (SLB) fabrication. While the process of SLB formation has been highly scrutinized, less understood are the details of vesicle adsorption without rupture, especially at high surface coverages. Herein, we tackle this problem by employing simultaneous quartz crystal microbalance-dissipation (QCM-D) and localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) measurements in order to investigate the effect of vesicle size (84–211 nm diameter) on vesicle adsorption onto a titanium oxide surface. Owing to fundamental differences in the measurement principles of the two techniques as well as a mismatch in probing volumes, it was possible to determine both the lipid mass adsorbed near the sensor surface as well as the total mass of adsorbed lipid and hydrodynamically coupled solvent in the adsorbed vesicle layer as a whole. With increasing vesicle size, the QCM-D frequency signal exhibited monotonic behavior reaching an asymptotic value, whereas the QCM-D energy dissipation signal continued to increase according to the vesicle size. In marked contrast, the LSPR-tracked lipid mass near the sensor surface followed a parabolic trend, with the greatest corresponding measurement response occurring for intermediate-size vesicles. The findings reveal that the maximum extent of adsorbed vesicles contacting a solid surface occurs at an intermediate vesicle size due to the competing influences of vesicle deformation and steric packing. Looking forward, such information can be applied to control the molecular self-assembly of phospholipid assemblies as well as provide the basis for investigating deformable, soft matter adsorbates.