Vesicle formation and general phase behavior in the catanionic mixture SDS− DDAB− water. The anionic-rich side Academic Article uri icon


  • Catanionic mixtures are aqueous mixtures of oppositely charged surfactants which display novel phase behavior and interfacial properties in comparison with those of the individual surfactants. One phase behavior property is the ability of these systems to spontaneously form stable vesicles at high dilution. The phase behavior of the mixture sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) − didodecyldimethylammonium bromide (DDAB) in water has been studied in detail, and two regions of isotropic vesicular phases (anionic-rich and cationic-rich) were identified. Cryo-transmission electron microscopy allowed direct visualization of relatively small and polydisperse unilamellar vesicles on the SDS-rich side. Monitoring of the microstructure evolution from mixed micelles to vesicles as the surfactant mixing ratio is varied toward equimolarity was also obtained. Further information was provided by water self-diffusion measurements by pulsed field gradient spin-echo NMR. Water molecules can be in fast or slow exchange between the inside and outside of the vesicle with respect to the experimental time scale, depending on membrane permeability and vesicle size. For the SDS-rich vesicles, a slow-diffusing component of very low molar fraction observed for the echo decays was traced down to very large vesicles in solution. Light microscopy confirmed the presence of vesicles of several microns in diameter. Thus, polydispersity seems to be an inherent feature of the system.

publication date

  • August 1, 1998