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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Sugar-based gemini surfactant with a vesicle-to-micelle transition at acidic pH and a reversible vesicle flocculation near neutral pH.

A sugar-based (reduced glucose) gemini surfactant forms vesicles in dilute aqueous solution near neutral pH. At lower pH, there is a vesicle-to-micelle transition within a narrow pH region (pH 6.0-5.6). The vesicles are transformed into large cylindrical micelles that in turn are transformed into small globular micelles at even lower pH. In the vesicular pH region, the vesicles are positively charged at pH < 7 and exhibit a good colloidal stability. However, close to pH 7, the vesicles become unstable and rapidly flocculate and eventually sediment out from the solution. We find that the flocculation correlates with low vesicle zeta-potentials and the behavior is thus well predicted by the classical DLVO theory of colloidal stability. Surprisingly, we find that the vesicles are easily redispersed by increasing the pH to above pH 7. 5. We show that this is due to a vesicle surface charge reversal resulting in negatively charged vesicles at pH > 7. 1. Adsorption, or binding, of hydroxide ions to the vesicular surface is likely the cause for the charge reversal, and a hydroxide ion binding constant is calculated using a Poisson-Boltzmann model.[1]


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