Freestanding lipid bilayers are one of the most used model systems to mimic biological cell membranes. To form an unsupported bilayer, we employ two aqueous fingers in a microfluidic chip surrounded by an oily phase that contains lipids. Upon pushing two aqueous fingers forward, their interface becomes decorated with a lipid monolayer and eventually zip to form a bilayer when the monolayers have nanoscopic contact with each other. Using this straightforward approach, the quick and easy bilayer formation is facilitated by oil draining into the microfluidic device material consisting of polydimethylsiloxane. However, the oil drainage limits the lifetime of a bilayer to about 1 h. We demonstrate that this drainage can be managed, resulting in superior bilayer stability and an increased lifetime of several hours when using a pressure-controlled system. Applying different pressures to the aqueous fingers in the microfluidic chip, the formed bilayer can even be bent to a desired curvature. Extracting the contact angle and the resulting curvature of the bilayer region, for a given applied pressure difference, both the bilayer tension and the surface tension of each lipid monolayer can be derived from a single experiment using the Young Laplace pressure equation.

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