We report the detection of charge reversal induced by the adsorption of an aqueous cationic polyelectrolyte, poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH), to supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) used as idealized model biological membranes. Through the use of an α-quartz reference crystal, we quantify the total interfacial potential at the interface in absolute units using heterodyne-detected second harmonic generation (HD-SHG) as an optical voltmeter. This quantification is made possible by isolating the phase-shifted potential-dependent third-order susceptibility from other contributions to the total SHG response. We detect the sign and magnitude of the surface potential and the point of charge reversal at buried interfaces without prior information or complementary data. Isolation of the second-order susceptibility contribution from the overall SHG response allows us to directly characterize the Stern and diffuse layers over single-component SLBs. We apply the method to SLBs formed from three different zwitterionic lipids having different gel-to-fluid phase transition temperatures (Tm's). We determine whether the surface potential changes with the physical phase state (gel, transitioning, or fluid) of the SLB. Furthermore, we incorporate 20% of negatively charged lipids to the zwitterionic SLB to investigate how the surface potential and the second-order nonlinear susceptibility χ(2) change with surface charge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry