Applications of functional surfactants

Yan Yeung Luk, Nicholas L. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Recent studies have reported the introduction of a range of new chemical and biochemical functionalities into the structures of amphiphilic molecules. Assemblies spontaneously formed by these amphiphilies are in many cases highly complex and possess properties not found in systems formed from amphiphiles with simpler structures. In particular, the incorporation of peptides and oligopeptides into the hydrophilic domains of amphiphiles has led to new classes of surfactants that self-assemble into structures that mimic a variety of the functions of natural materials (including organic scaffolds of bone; inhibitors of proteins involved in viral infection; chiral polymeric amphiphiles; materials that promote adhesion of cells to surfaces). Amphiphiles functionalized with a range of carbohydrates have also ben reported. These amphiphiles assemble into aggregate morphologies that depend strongly on the stereochemistry of the carbohydrate. These assemblies offer the basis of promising approaches for the design of polyvalent (potent) carbohydrate-based drugs. Finally, the introduction of redox-active and polymerizable functional groups into the structures of amphiphiles has provided the basis of a class of novel tunable solvents with potential applications in separations technologies as well as new materials that exhibit controlled release and catalytic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphiphiles
  • Biomimetic
  • Carbohydrates
  • Catalysis
  • Controlled release
  • Drugs
  • Functional surfactants
  • P olyvalency
  • Peptides
  • Polymerizable
  • Redox-active
  • Separations
  • Tunable solvents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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