Lipid Pore-Filled Silica Thin-Film Membranes for Biomimetic Recovery of Dilute Carbohydrates

Selectively permeable biological membranes containing lipophilic barriers inspire the design of biomimetic carrier-mediated membranes for aqueous solute separation. The recovery of glucose, which can reversibly bind to boronic acid (BA) carriers, is examined in lipid pore-filled silica thin-film composite membranes with accessible mesopores. The successful incorporation of lipids (1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, DPPC) and BA carriers (4-((N-Boc-amino)­methyl)­phenylboronic acid, BAMP-BA) in the pores of mesoporous silica (∼10 nm pore diameter) through evaporation deposition is verified by confocal microscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. In the absence of BA carriers, lipids confined inside the pores of silica thin films (∼200 nm thick) provide a factor of 14 increase in diffusive transport resistance to glucose, relative to traditional supported lipid bilayers formed by vesicle fusion on the porous surface. The addition of lipid-immobilized BAMP-BA (59 mol % in DPPC) facilitates the transport of glucose through the membrane; glucose flux increases from 45 × 10–8 to 225 × 10–8 mol/m2/s in the presence of BAMP-BA. Furthermore, the transport can be improved by environmental factors including pH gradient (to control the binding and release of glucose) and temperature (to adjust lipid bilayer fluidity). The successful development of biomimetic nanocomposite membranes demonstrated here is an important step toward the efficient dilute aqueous solute upgrading or separations, such as the processing of carbohydrates from lignocellulose hydrolysates, using engineered carrier/catalyst/support systems.