A hydrated, surface-tethered polymer network capable of fivefold change in thickness over a 25-37 degrees C temperature range has been demonstrated via neutron reflectivity and fluorescence microscopy to be a novel support for single lipid bilayers in a liquid environment. As the polymer swells from 170 to 900 A, it promotes both in- and out-of-plane fluctuations of the supported membrane. The cushioned bilayer proved to be very robust, remaining structurally intact for 16 days and many temperature cycles. The promotion of membrane fluctuations offers far-reaching applications for this system as a surrogate biomembrane.
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