A recent achievement in the droplet interface bilayer (DIB) technique is the ability to link multiple lipid-encased aqueous droplets in an oil medium to construct a membrane-based network. Highly flexible, efficient and durable compared to other lipid bilayer modeling techniques, these systems establish a framework for the creation of biocompatible and stimuli-responsive smart materials with applications ranging from biosensing to reliable micro-actuation. Incorporating ferrofluids droplets into this platform has proven to accelerate the networks’ building mechanism through remote magnetic-control of the droplets movement and has reduced the likelihood of failure during the pre-network-completion phase. Additionally, ferrofluid drops may be placed in the final network structure as they are macroscopically homogenous and behave as single phased liquids. Due to their paramagnetic characteristics, no residual magnetization is observed in the ferrofluid upon removal of the external magnetic field, allowing for simple control of the magnetically responsive droplets. Aside from the ferrofluids reliability in contact-free manipulation of bilayer networks, this work shows a different feature of having such hybrid ferrofluid-water DIB networks: magnetic-sensibility and actuation. Once pre-structured mixed networks are formed, a magnetic source is used to generate various magnetic fields in the vicinity of the DIB webs; changes in structural responses are then observed and used to induce protein channel gating in DIB networks channeling the functionality of a switch. Tailored architectures are accordingly evaluated and their suitability for the creation of microfluidic-magneto sensors and actuators is assessed.

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