Lipid cubic phases are complex nanostructures that form naturally in a variety of biological systems, with applications including drug delivery and nanotemplating. Most X-ray scattering studies on lipid cubic phases have used unoriented polydomain samples as either bulk gels or suspensions of micrometer-sized cubosomes. We present a method of investigating cubic phases in a new form, as supported thin films that can be analyzed using grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS). We present GISAXS data on three lipid systems: phytantriol and two grades of monoolein (research and industrial). The use of thin films brings a number of advantages. First, the samples exhibit a high degree of uniaxial orientation about the substrate normal. Second, the new morphology allows precise control of the substrate mesophase geometry and lattice parameter using a controlled temperature and humidity environment, and we demonstrate the controllable formation of oriented diamond and gyroid inverse bicontinuous cubic along with lamellar phases. Finally, the thin film morphology allows the induction of reversible phase transitions between these mesophase structures by changes in humidity on subminute time scales, and we present time-resolved GISAXS data monitoring these transformations.
Rittman, M., Amenitsch, H., Rappolt, M., Sartori, B., O’Driscoll, B. M. D., & Squires, A. M. (2013). Control and analysis of oriented thin films of lipid inverse bicontinuous cubic phases using grazing incidence small-angle x-ray scattering. Langmuir, 29(31), 9874-9880. https://doi.org/10.1021/la401580y