Ferro-self-assembly: magnetic and electrochemical adaptation of a multiresponsive zwitterionic metalloamphiphile showing a shape-hysteresis effect†
Metallosurfactants are molecular compounds which combine the unique features of amphiphiles, like their capability of self-organization, with the peculiar properties of metal complexes like magnetism and a rich redox chemistry. Considering the high relevance of surfactants in industry and science, amphiphiles that change their properties on applying an external trigger are highly desirable. A special feature of the surfactant reported here, 1-(Z)-heptenyl-1′-dimethylammonium-methyl-(3-sulfopropyl)ferrocene (6), is that the redox-active ferrocene constituent is in a gemini-position. Oxidation to 6+ induces a drastic change of the surfactant's properties accompanied by the emergence of paramagnetism. The effects of an external magnetic field on vesicles formed by 6+ and the associated dynamics were monitored in situ using a custom-made optical birefringence and dual dynamic light scattering setup. This allowed us to observe the optical anisotropy as well as the anisotropy of the diffusion coefficient and revealed the field-induced formation of oriented string-of-pearls-like aggregates and their delayed disappearance after the field is switched off.