Structure of DPPC Monolayers at the Air/Buffer Interface: A Neutron Reflectometry and Ellipsometry Study


Langmuir monolayers of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphocholine, known as DPPC, at the air/water interface are extensively used as model systems of biomembranes and pulmonary surfactant. The properties of these monolayers have been mainly investigated by surface pressure–area isotherms coupled with different complementary techniques such as Brewster angle microscopy, for example. Several attempts using neutron reflectometry (NR) or ellipsometry have also appeared in the literature. Here, we report structural information obtained by using NR and ellipsometry on DPPC monolayers in the liquid condensed phase. On one side, NR can resolve the thickness of the aliphatic tails and the degree of hydration of the polar headgroups. On the other side, ellipsometry gives information on the refractive index and, therefore, on the physical state of the monolayer. The thickness and surface excess obtained by multiple-angle-of-incidence ellipsometry (MAIE) is compared with the results from NR measurements yielding a good agreement. Besides, a novel approach is reported to calculate the optical anisotropy of the DPPC monolayer that depends on the orientation of the aliphatic chains. The results from both NR and ellipsometry are also discussed in the context of the existing results for DPPC monolayers at the air/water interface. The differences observed are rationalized by the presence of buffer molecules interacting with phospholipids.


Javier Carrascosa-Tejedor: Andreas Santamaria; Daniel Pereira; Armando Maestro

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