Charged supramolecular assemblies of surfactant molecules in gas phase

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this review is to critically analyze recent literature on charged supramolecular assemblies formed by surfactant molecules in gas phase. Apart our specific interest on this research area, the stimuli to undertake the task arise from the widespread theoretical and applicative benefits emerging from a comprehensive view of this topic. In fact, the study of the formation, stability, and physicochemical peculiarities of non-covalent assemblies of surfactant molecules in gas phase allows to unveil interesting aspects such as the role of attractive, repulsive, and steric intermolecular interactions as driving force of supramolecular organization in absence of interactions with surrounding medium and the size and charge state dependence of aggregate structural and dynamical properties. Other interesting aspects worth to be investigated are joined to the ability of these assemblies to incorporate selected solubilizates molecules as well as to give rise to chemical reactions within a single organized structure. In particular, the incorporation of large molecules such as proteins has been of recent interest with the objective to protect their structure and functionality during the transition from solution to gas phase. Exciting fall-out of the study of gas phase surfactant aggregates includes mass and energy transport in the atmosphere, origin of life and simulation of supramolecular aggregation in the interstellar space. Moreover, supramolecular assemblies of amphiphilic molecules in gas phase could find remarkable applications as atmospheric cleaning agents, nanosolvents and nanoreactors for specialized chemical processes in confined space. Mass spectrometry techniques have proven to be particularly suitable to generate these assemblies and to furnish useful information on their size, size polydispersity, stability, and structural organization. On the other hand molecular dynamics simulations have been very useful to rationalize many experimental findings and to furnish a vivid picture of the structural and dynamic features of these aggregates. Thus, in this review, we will focus on the most important achievements gained in recent years by both these investigative tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-187
Number of pages18
JournalMass Spectrometry Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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