In recent years, the number of non-aqueous solvents which mediate hydrocarbon–solvent interactions and promote the self-assembly of amphiphiles has been markedly increased by the reporting of over 30 ionic liquids which possess this previously unusual solvent characteristic. This new situation allows a different exploration of the molecular “solvophobic effect” and tests the current understanding of amphiphile self-assembly. Interestingly, both protic and aprotic ionic liquids support amphiphile self-assembly, indicating that it is not required for the solvents to be able to form a hydrogen bonded network. Here, the use of ionic liquids as amphiphile self-assembly media is reviewed, including micelle and liquid crystalline mesophase formation, their use as a solvent phase in microemulsions and emulsions, and the emerging field of nanostructured inorganic materials synthesis. Surfactants, lipids and block co-polymers are the focus amphiphile classes in this critical review (174 references).
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