Surface patterning of carbon nanotubes can enhance their penetration through a phospholipid bilayer

ACS Nano. 2011 Feb 22;5(2):1141-6. doi: 10.1021/nn102763b. Epub 2011 Jan 5.


Nanotube patterning may occur naturally upon the spontaneous self-assembly of biomolecules onto the surface of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). It results in periodically alternating bands of surface properties, ranging from relatively hydrophilic to hydrophobic, along the axis of the nanotube. Single-chain mean field (SCMF) theory has been used to estimate the free energy of systems in which a surface patterned nanotube penetrates a phospholipid bilayer. In contrast to unpatterned nanotubes with uniform surface properties, certain patterned nanotubes have been identified that display a relatively low and approximately constant system free energy (<±10 kT) as the nanotube traverses through the bilayer. These observations support the hypothesis that the spontaneous self-assembly of biomolecules on the surface of SWNTs may facilitate nanotube transduction through cell membranes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Surface Properties
  • Thermodynamics


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Phospholipids