Unraveling the Origin of the Apparent Charge of Zwitterionic Lipid Layers

Lisa B. Dreier, Amanuel Wolde-Kidan, Douwe Jan Bonthuis, Roland R. Netz, Ellen H.G. Backus, Mischa Bonn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structure of water molecules in contact with zwitterionic lipid molecules is of great biological relevance, because biological membranes are largely composed of such lipids. The interaction of the interfacial water molecules with the amphiphilic lipid molecules drives the formation of membranes and greatly influences various processes at the membrane surface, as the field that arises from the aligned interfacial water molecules masks the charges of the lipid headgroups from the approaching metabolites. To increase our understanding of the influence of water molecules on biological processes we study their structure at the interface using sum-frequency generation spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. Interestingly, we find that water molecules at zwitterionic lipid molecules are mainly oriented by the field arising between the two oppositely charged molecular moieties within the lipid headgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6355-6359
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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