Posted in | Nanosensors | Graphene

Graphene Could Enter the Body on Top of a Stable Lipid Monolayer

CREDIT: Universiteit Leiden

Researchers have, for the first time, succeeded in placing a graphene layer on top of a firm fatty lipid monolayer. Graphene, surrounded by a protective shell of lipids, could enter the body and work as a versatile sensor. The findings, recently published in Nanoscale, are the initial steps towards such a shell.

In contrast to earlier research, a stable structure was observed by the researchers when graphene was placed on a single layer of lipids. A patent for these findings has been submitted. This discovery was made by PhD candidate Lia Lima and co-workers under the administration of chemist Grégory Schneider.


Graphene, a surface material comprising of a single layer of carbon atoms, is extremely thin, flexible and strong. Graphene is under great demand in the technological world due to its efficient conduction of electricity, and it also has a wide range of applications.

Graphene is particularly sensitive and can respond to its environment in the body.

Grégory Schneider, Chemist, Universiteit Leiden

Future applications for the body include systems and biosensors that assign the exact spot to carry out diagnosis.

Bonding with Graphene

Hard inorganic materials are often used as a support, making graphene ideal for these applications. These hard materials however are not suitable for the use of graphene in the body.

This is the reason that scientists are on the look out for organic, soft molecules to combine with graphene - in this case lipids.

Lipids on Graphene

Lipids are fats present in the cell membrane - the protective layer of a cell. This membrane is made up of a double layer of lipids. Graphene freely passed through the body when it was placed between the two layers.

A method that is already used with cancer medicines. We made a single layer of lipids in the lab and transferred graphene on top: a first step towards mimicking the cell membrane.

Grégory Schneider, Chemist, Universiteit Leiden


The researchers in this present study observed that a high-quality support was provided by a lipid layer to graphene. Infrared measurements were used to demonstrate the lipid layer’s stability.

The researchers further discovered that the electrical conduction of graphene was enhanced by lipids, and this effect guarantees potential for future applications. The electrical signals of graphene present in the body can be measured by the progress in electrical conduction. These signals reveal something about the graphene environment, such as the presence of specific proteins or the acidity.


Graphene could eventually pass through the body when it is stabilized by lipids.

However, we still have a long way to go. The next step is to place a lipid layer on both sides of graphene, like a sandwich.

Grégory Schneider, Chemist, Universiteit Leiden

The research publication has been featured on the cover of Nanoscale


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