Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 12, 2006
Previous Article Next Article

New speciality surfactants with natural structural motifs

Author affiliations


The interest in designing highly specialised synthetic surfactants incorporating natural structural motifs has increased remarkably during the last few years. The variety of naturally occurring structures used as parts of such “designer surfactants” ranges from simple amino acids and short peptides over carbohydrates to steroids. Surely, one of the most prominent examples in this respect and probably the breakthrough for tailor-made surfactants in highly specialised applications was the use of a surfactant for the first successful crystallisation of a membrane protein, a great feat for which the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in the year 1988. Moreover, the ability of certain specialised surfactants to accelerate the transport of genetic material or drugs through biological membranes is widely taken advantage of in biotechnology and pharmacy. The most important applications for surfactants, however, are related to their self-organisation in solution. Self-organisation leads to the formation of micelles, liposomes, lyotropic liquid crystalline phases, and microemulsions. These self-organised structures are used for solubilisation, transport, and separation processes, as templates for nanoparticles, as models for biomembranes, and as reaction media, to mention just a few. In all these applications surfactants designed on the basis of natural compounds are either desirable or even indispensable. An overview of some of our recent synthetic work in the field of “new speciality surfactants with natural structural motifs”, partly taking advantage of the “chiral pool”, will be given and future perspectives will be discussed.

Graphical abstract: New speciality surfactants with natural structural motifs

Back to tab navigation

Article information

13 Jul 2006
22 Sep 2006
First published
25 Oct 2006

New J. Chem., 2006,30, 1705-1717
Article type

New speciality surfactants with natural structural motifs

D. Blunk, P. Bierganns, N. Bongartz, R. Tessendorf and C. Stubenrauch, New J. Chem., 2006, 30, 1705
DOI: 10.1039/B610045G

Social activity

Search articles by author