In the Kett research group we are interested in studying surface and interfacial phenomena. Specifically we look at how solid surfaces interact with adsorbed molecules and how the adsorption process can be controlled through changes in ionic strength, pH, and surface charge. Currently the group is focused on developing a kinetic model for the formation of supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) on a silicon dioxide (SiO
) surface. SLBs are a class of model biological membrane in which a phospholipid bilayer is supported on a metal or non-metal surface. They are used as mimics of biological cell membranes as the large number of different molecules that are in a cell membrane makes it difficult to determine the structure, dynamics and interactions of each individual membrane component. Although SLBs can be formed on a number of different surfaces, they do not form on
surfaces and it is not usually possible to make an
prediction as to whether a particular combination of phospholipid concentration, surface, salt concentration, temperature, and solution pH will result in the formation of an SLB. By monitoring the real time formation of SLBs using a Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) we are developing a mechanistic model that will allow us to determine how each of these experimental conditions affects the formation of SLBs.