Lipid bilayers are some of the most fascinating self-assembled structure in living nature. Not only do they serve as the protective boundary of cells and their internal organelles, they also organize and host major parts of the biochemical machinery for cellular communication and transmembrane transport. To study aspects of cellular membranes in a controlled manner, solid supported planar bilayers have served as reliable tools for many decades. They have been used in a large variety of studies ranging from fundamental investigations of membranes and their constituents to the dissection of cellular signaling mechanisms. However, there are limitations to these systems and recently a class of new systems in which the lipid bilayer is supported on a soft, polymer cushion has emerged. Here, we review the different polymer cushioned bilayer systems and discuss their manufacture and advantages.
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