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Hybrid bilayer membranes as platforms for biomimicry and catalysis

Abstract

Hybrid bilayer membrane (HBM) platforms represent an emerging nanoscale bio-inspired interface that has broad implications in energy catalysis and smart molecular devices. An HBM contains multiple modular components that include an underlying inorganic surface with a biological layer appended on top. The inorganic interface serves as a support with robust mechanical properties that can also be decorated with functional moieties, sensing units and catalytic active sites. The biological layer contains lipids and membrane-bound entities that facilitate or alter the activity and selectivity of the embedded functional motifs. With their structural complexity and functional flexibility, HBMs have been demonstrated to enhance catalytic turnover frequency and regulate product selectivity of the O2 and CO2 reduction reactions, which have applications in fuel cells and electrolysers. HBMs can also steer the mechanistic pathways of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions of quinones and metal complexes by tuning electron and proton delivery rates. Beyond energy catalysis, HBMs have been equipped with enzyme mimics and membrane-bound redox agents to recapitulate natural energy transport chains. With channels and carriers incorporated, HBM sensors can quantify transmembrane events. This Review serves to summarize the major accomplishments achieved using HBMs in the past decade.

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Fig. 1: HBM platforms at a glance.
Fig. 2: HBM development timeline.
Fig. 3: HBM preparation schemes.
Fig. 4: Morphological and compositional characterization of HBMs.
Fig. 5: Application of HBM platforms towards electrocatalysis.
Fig. 6: Application of HBM platforms towards biomimicry.
Fig. 7: Application of HBM platforms towards molecular switches.
Fig. 8: Application of HBM platforms towards sensors.
Fig. 9: A roadmap presenting future research directions for HBMs.

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Acknowledgements

E.C.M.T. thanks the Hong Kong (HK) Research Grants Council (RGC) for funding the HBM research programme via an Early Career Scheme (RGC grant 27301120) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China for providing a Young Scientists Fund (NSFC 22002132) to support research efforts on heterogeneous energy catalysis. The authors thank the CAS−RGC Joint Laboratory Funding Scheme (RGC grant JLFS/P-704/18) for supporting the HKU−CAS Joint Laboratory on New Materials. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) for funding the “Laboratory for Synthetic Chemistry and Chemical Biology” via the Health@InnoHK programme. H.-L.W. thanks MOST (the Ministry of Science and Technology), Taiwan and the Center of Atomic Initiative for New Materials, National Taiwan University, from the Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan (108L9008). The contributions of C.J.B. and R.P.G. are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation CAREER Award under grant number CHE-2046105.

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Glossary

Agglomeration

A process in which nanoparticles aggregate into a larger mass that is loosely packed by physical and chemical forces.

Flip-flop diffusion

A process where a bilayer-bound molecule moves from one lipid leaflet to another leaflet.

Laviron analysis

A mathematical method of determining the electron transfer rate constant of redox-active species adsorbed on an electrode by varying the scan rate in cyclic voltammetry.

Michaelis constant

(Km). Measures the affinity between the transporter and its substrate. Km is defined as the substrate concentration that is transported at half the maximum velocity.

Quartz crystal microbalance

Records the change in frequency of a quartz crystal resonator to measure the mass variation per unit area for determining the surface affinity of molecules in liquid.

Marangoni convection

A physical phenomenon driven by the surface tension gradient on the surface of a thin liquid layer.

Mica

A freshly cleaved mica plate can be used in AFM studies owing to its surface flatness at the atomic level.

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Zeng, T., Gautam, R.P., Ko, D.H. et al. Hybrid bilayer membranes as platforms for biomimicry and catalysis. Nat Rev Chem 6, 862–880 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-022-00433-2

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