Self-Assembly of Flat Nanodiscs in Salt-Free Catanionic Surfactant Solutions

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Science  05 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5403, pp. 816-819
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5403.816

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Discs of finite size are a very rare form of stable surfactant self-assembly. It is shown that mixing of two oppositely charged single-chain surfactants can produce rigid nanodiscs as well as swollen lamellar liquid crystals with frozen bilayers. The crucial requirement for obtaining nanodisc self-assembly is the use of H+ and OH as counterions. These counterions then form water and lower the conductivity to 10 microsiemens per centimeter. In the case of cationic component excess, a dilute solution of nanodiscs is in thermodynamic equilibrium with a lamellar phase. The diameter of the cationic nanodiscs is continuously adjustable from a few micrometers to 30 nanometers, with the positive charge located mainly around the edges.

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