Monolayers of Bolaform Amphiphiles: Influence of Alkyl Chain Length and Counterions

Guangzhao Mao, Yi Hua Tsao, Matthew Tirell, H. Ted Davis, Volker Hessel, Jan Van Esch, Helmut Ringsdorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We have prepared self-assembled monolayers of novel cationic bolaform amphiphiles on negatively charged substrates. Most of these amphiphiles form smooth, defect-free monolayers which can be used to reverse the substrate surface charge and thus allow subsequent adsorption of anionic molecules and construction of multilayers. Atomic force microscopy, surface force measurement, and surface plasmon spectroscopy were combined to probe the molecular orientation and ordering, mechanical properties, and surface electrical properties of the monolayers. In addition, the amphiphile aggregation behavior at an air-water interface was studied by surface tension measurement, and lyotropic phase behavior was studied by polarization microscopy. Our study suggests that monolayer interfacial and bulk properties can be controlled to a certain degree by selective variation of amphiphile chemical structure, in particular, the alkyl chain length and the type of counterions. An increase in alkyl chain length assists close-packing at the liquid-solid interface and self-assembly in a liquid medium due to a favorable hydrophobic free energy change. Exchange of halide ions with the strongly associating salicylate ions reduces electrostatic repulsion between head groups and also favors self-assembly and close-packing. Our study suggests that it is possible to overcome the dominance and limitation of the substrate electrostatic effect on monolayer structure by using amphiphiles with a strong inherent tendency for close-packing. Our observations contribute to the understanding of two-dimensional topochemical photopolymerization, multilayer deposition of alternating surface charges, modification of hydrophilic surface electrical properties, and in general, the dependence of monolayer architecture on molecular chemical structure and intermolecular forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4174-4184
Number of pages11
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 1994
Externally publishedYes


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