How self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules can generate complexityin the nanoscale

Vincenzo Turco Liveri, Daniela Caschera, Pietro Calandra, Domenico Lombardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


tGiven the importance of nanomaterials and nanostructures in modern technology, in the past decadesmuch effort has been directed to set up efficient bottom up protocols for the piloted self-assembly ofmolecules. However, molecules are generally disinclined to adopt the desired structural organizationbecause they behave according to their own specific intermolecular interactions. Thus, only some selectedclasses of chemical compounds are capable to lead to useful self-assembled structures. Amphiphiles,simultaneously possessing polar and apolar moieties within their molecular architecture, can give awide scenario of possible intermolecular interactions: polar–polar, polar–apolar, apolar–apolar interac-tions, eventual directional H-bonds, steric hindrance and so on. This peculiarity efficiently triggers thepossibility of originating complex behavior, i.e. the formation of interacting structures at hierarchicallength-scales characterized by emerging and specific properties and functions. However, if one places ina becher the molecules constituting a living cell, he does not observe the formation of a living cell evenafter vigorous and prolonged stirring and/or heating. This consideration suggests that the building up ofcomplex structures is not only an affair of molecular structure, system composition and self-assemblingprocesses but additional subtle features can contribute to the overall process. The aim of this contributionis to furnish to the reader a panoramic view of this exciting problematic clarifying what is meant withthe concept of complexity and how the rich world of amphiphilic molecules are employed for obtain-ing complex nanostructure-based systems with novel characteristics for applications in nanotechnology.While the literature is full of contributions focusing on specific aspects of self-assembly and complexity,the present work constitutes an easy to read critical point of view which tries to interact with the imagi-nation of readers hopefully leading to the discovery of novel aspects and interconnections and ultimatelystimulating new ideas and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-183
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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