Phospholipid bilayer membranes at the interface between a substrate and an aqueous phase, supported by or tethered to the solid surface via a polymer cushion, a peptide-, protein-, or oligosaccharide-coupling layer have reached a stage at which they are important as a novel model membrane system but also offer potential for practical applications (e.g. for biosensing purposes with membrane-integral receptors). We briefly summarize some of the recent progress made in the structural characterization of the build-up of these rather complex interfacial architectures, in the functionalization of the pure lipid matrix by the reconstitution of proteins, and in the lateral patterning of the membranes as a prerequisite for the construction of membrane chips for massive parallel monitoring of binding events.
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