Having a fast, reliable method for characterizing vesicles is vital for their use as model cell membranes in biophysics, synthetic biology, and origins of life studies. Instead of the traditionally used Rayleigh-Gans-Debye approximation, we use an exact extended Lorenz-Mie solution for how core-shell particles scatter light to model vesicle turbidity. This approach enables accurate interpretations of simple turbidimetric measurements and is able to accurately model highly scattering vesicles, such as larger vesicles, those with multiple layers, and those with encapsulated material. We uncover several surprising features, including that vesicle lamellarity has a larger effect on sample turbidity than vesicle size and that the technique can be used to measure the membrane thickness of vesicles. We also examine potential misinterpretations of turbidimetry and discuss when measurements are limited by forward and multiple scattering and by the geometry of the instrument.
Wang, A., Chan Miller, C., & Szostak, J. W. (2019). Core-Shell Modeling of Light Scattering by Vesicles: Effect of Size, Contents, and Lamellarity. Biophysical Journal, 116(4), 659–669. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2019.01.006