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Tuning Micelle Dimensions and Properties with Binary Surfactant Mixtures

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2014 by Ryan C. Oliver, Jan Lipfert, Daniel A. Fox, Ryan H. Lo, Justin J. Kim, Sebastian Doniach, Linda Columbus
Detergent micelles are used in many areas of research and technology, in particular, as mimics of the cellular membranes in the purification and biochemical and structural characterization of membrane proteins. Applications of detergent micelles are often hindered by the limited set of properties of commercially available detergents. Mixtures of micelle-forming detergents provide a means to systematically obtain additional micellar properties and expand the repertoire of micelle features available; however, our understanding of the properties of detergent mixtures is still limited. In this study, the shape and size of binary mixtures of seven different detergents commonly used in molecular host–guest systems and membrane protein research were investigated. The data suggests that the detergents form ideally mixed micelles with sizes and shapes different from those of pure individual micelles. For most measurements of size, the mixtures varied linearly with detergent mole fraction and therefore can be calculated from the values of the pure detergents. We propose that properties such as the geometry, size, and surface charge can be systematically and predictably tuned for specific applications.