Nanomechanical properties of phospholipid microbubbles

Evelyn Buchner Santos, Julia K. Morris, Emmanouil Glynos, Vassilis Sboros, Vasileios Koutsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This study uses atomic force microscopy (AFM) force-deformation (F-Delta) curves to investigate for the first time the Young's modulus of a phospholipid microbubble (MB) ultrasound contrast agent. The stiffness of the MBs was calculated from the gradient of the F-Delta curves, and the Young's modulus of the MB shell was calculated by employing two different mechanical models based on the Reissner and elastic membrane theories. We found that the relatively soft phospholipid-based MBs behave inherently differently to stiffer, polymer-based MBs [Glynos, E.; Koutsos, V.; McDicken, W. N.; Moran, C. M.; Pye, S. D.; Ross, J. A.; Sboros, V. Langmuir 2009, 25 (13), 7514-7522] and that elastic membrane theory is the most appropriate of the models tested for evaluating the Young's modulus of the phospholipid shell, agreeing with values available for living cell membranes, supported lipid bilayers, and synthetic phospholipid vesicles. Furthermore, we show that AFM F-Delta curves in combination with a suitable mechanical model can assess the shell properties of phospholipid MBs. The "effective" Young's modulus of the whole bubble was also calculated by analysis using Hertz theory. This analysis yielded values which are in agreement with results from studies which used Hertz theory to analyze similar systems such as cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5753-5760
Number of pages8
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2012


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