Chirality of reverse micelles

Colombo, Luca and Thomas, Richard and Luisi, Pier Luigi (1991) Chirality of reverse micelles. Chirality, 3 (4). pp. 233-241. ISSN 1520-636X

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Four chiral analogues of the surfactant Aerosol-OT (AOT) have been synthesized and characterized. All of them form reverse micelles in apolar solvents in the w0 range 0–30 (w0 = [water]/[tenside]). Reverse micellar solutions have been investigated by UV absorption and circular dichroism spectroscopies with the aim of clarifying whether the formation of the macromolecular micellar structure induces the appearance of new chromophoric bands or perturbs the existing ones. Methanolic solutions of the surfactants, in which no micellar aggregates are formed, were taken as references. One of the products 1(S),1′(S)-dimethylbisheptylsulphosuccinate sodium salt (MH-AOT) was capable of forming reverse micelles of relatively high water content (w0 up to 40) and this process was accompanied by a specific increase in the intensity of the circular dichroism band associated with the ester absorbance of the molecule. As no concomitant changes were seen in the UV absorbance spectrum, it was concluded that this observation reflected conformational events occurring within the surfactant rather than chromophoric perturbation. These results are qualitatively similar to those found recently for lecithin reverse micelles which, however, form gels at sufficiently high water contents. The chiroptical properties of these supramolecular aggregates are compared with those of covalent macromolecular systems such as polypeptides.

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