Multilamellar vesicles were first prepared by hydration of a lipid film (10 mg/ml) in Hepes buffer, followed by incubation at 50°C for 30 min. Liposomal suspensions were then sonicated for 5 min and added to a mica substrate. Excess of liposomes was removed after 1 hour, and the mica surfaces were rinsed 10 times with a 150 mM KCl solution. Samples were imaged using a multimode atomic force microscope with a NanoScope IV controller (Bruker, Santa Barbara, CA) (fig. S6). The tapping mode images were acquired using silicon nitride cantilever tips submerged in buffer. A resonance frequency of ~8 kHz and drive amplitude under 100 mV were used (Asylum Research, Santa Barbara, CA). NanoScope software was used for depth analysis to estimate the height of the lipid membranes.

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