The spontaneous micelle-to-vesicle transition in an aqueous mixture of two surface-active ionic liquids (SAILs), namely, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium n-octylsulfate ([C4mim][C8SO4]) and 1-dodecyl-3-methylimidazoium chloride ([C12mim]Cl) is described. In addition to detailed structural characterization obtained by using dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and cryogenic TEM techniques, ultrafast fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) from coumarin 153 (C153) as a donor (D) to rhodamine 6G (R6G) as an acceptor (A) is also used to study micelle-vesicle transitions in the present system. Structural transitions of SAIL micelles ([C4mim][C8SO4] or [C12mim]Cl micelles) to mixed SAIL vesicles resulted in significantly increased D-A distances, and therefore, increased timescale of FRET. In [C4mim][C8SO4] micelles, FRET between C153 and R6G occurs on an ultrafast timescale of 3.3 ps, which corresponds to a D-A distance of about 15 A. As [C4mim][C8SO4] micelles are transformed into mixed micelles upon the addition of a 0.25 molar fraction of [C12mim]Cl, the timescale of FRET increases to 300 ps, which suggests an increase in the D-A distance to 31 A. At a 0.5 molar fraction of [C12mim]Cl, unilamellar vesicles are formed in which FRET occurs on multiple timescales of about 250 and 2100 ps, which correspond to D-A distances of 33 and 47 A. Although in micelles and mixed micelles the obtained D-A distances are well correlated with their radius, in vesicles the obtained D-A distance is within the range of the bilayer thickness.
- Ionic liquids