Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 6, 2011
Previous Article Next Article

Semi-permeable vesicles composed of natural clay

Author affiliations


We report a simple route to form robust, inorganic, semi-permeable compartments composed of montmorillonite, a natural plate-like clay mineral that occurs widely in the environment. Mechanical forces due to shear in a narrow gap assemble clay nanoplates from an aqueous suspension onto air bubbles. Translucent vesicles suspended in a single-phase liquid are produced when the clay-covered air bubbles are exposed to a variety of water-miscible organic liquids and water-soluble surfactants. These vesicles of clay are mechanically robust and are stable in water and other liquids. We find that the wetting of organic liquids on clay explains the formation of clay vesicles from clay armored bubbles. Clay vesicles are microporous, exhibit size-selective permeability, and support spontaneous compartmentalization of self-assembling molecules in aqueous environments. The results we report here expand our understanding of potential paths to micro-compartmentalization in natural settings and are of relevance to theories of colloidal aggregation, mineral cycles, and the origins of life.

Graphical abstract: Semi-permeable vesicles composed of natural clay

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 21 Nov 2010, accepted on 03 Jan 2011 and first published on 07 Feb 2011

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0SM01354D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2011,7, 2600-2612

  •   Request permissions

    Semi-permeable vesicles composed of natural clay

    A. B. Subramaniam, J. Wan, A. Gopinath and H. A. Stone, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 2600
    DOI: 10.1039/C0SM01354D

Search articles by author