Surfactant vesicles for high-efficiency capture and separation of charged organic solutes

Langmuir. 2007 Aug 14;23(17):8965-71. doi: 10.1021/la070215n. Epub 2007 Jul 21.


We demonstrate the unique ability of catanionic vesicles, formed by mixing single-tailed cationic and anionic surfactants, to capture ionic solutes with remarkable efficiency. In an initial study (Wang, X.; Danoff, E. J.; Sinkov, N. A.; Lee, J.-H.; Raghavan, S. R.; English, D. S. Langmuir 2006, 22, 6461) with vesicles formed from cetyl trimethylammonium tosylate (CTAT) and sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate (SDBS), we showed that CTAT-rich (cationic) vesicles could capture the anionic solute carboxyfluorescein with high efficiency (22%) and that the solute was retained by the vesicles for very long times (t1/2 = 84 days). Here we expand on these findings by investigating the interactions of both anionic and cationic solutes, including the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin, with both CTAT-rich and SDBS-rich vesicles. The ability of these vesicles to capture and hold dyes is extremely efficient (>20%) when the excess charge of the vesicle bilayer is opposite that of the solute (i.e., for anionic solutes in CTAT-rich vesicles and for cationic solutes in SDBS-rich vesicles). This charge-dependent effect is strong enough to enable the use of vesicles to selectively capture and separate an oppositely charged solute from a mixture of solutes. Our results suggest that catanionic surfactant vesicles could be useful for a variety of separation and drug delivery applications because of their unique properties and long-term stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Color
  • Molecular Structure
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry*
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry*
  • Time Factors


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Surface-Active Agents