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May 20, 2011
Like Charges, Er, Attract?
Now, this is a strange little paper in Chem. Comm. The authors are studying small reverse micelles (RMs, basically, for those of you not in the field, bits of water enclosed by a layer of soap-like organic molecules).
Nothing wrong with that - micelles and reverse micelles have been objects of study for many years now. But they're saying that when they look at positively charged molecules and the way that they associate with positively charged RMs - that once the size of the reverse micelles gets small enough, that like charges attract instead of repel:
Comparing the results in the RMs and in the conventional micelles, it is quite evident that the violation in the principle of electrostatic interaction is not a general phenomenon and is quite speciﬁc for the nano-conﬁned environment, like in RMs. Thus, the charged surface formed under the nano-conﬁnement shows quite extraordinary electrostatic behaviour as compared to other normal charged surfaces.
They have some possible explanations, such as the large number of counterions in the small micellar pool of water providing electrostatic screening. They go on to suggest that if this effect is robust, that it could have real implications for behavior in biological systems (and for various drug-carrier ideas). Any thoughts from the more physical-chemistry oriented members of the crowd?
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