How hydrogen bonds affect the growth of reverse micelles around coordinating metal ions

Baofu Qiao, Thomas Demars, Monica Olvera De La Cruz*, Ross J. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Extensive research on hydrogen bonds (H-bonds) have illustrated their critical role in various biological, chemical and physical processes. Given that existing studies are predominantly performed in aqueous conditions, how H-bonds affect both the structure and function of aggregates in organic phase is poorly understood. Herein, we investigate the role of H-bonds on the hierarchical structure of an aggregating amphiphile-oil solution containing a coordinating metal complex by means of atomistic molecular dynamics simulations and X-ray techniques. For the first time, we show that H-bonds not only stabilize the metal complex in the hydrophobic environment by coordinating between the Eu(NO3)3 outer-sphere and aggregating amphiphiles, but also affect the growth of such reverse micellar aggregates. The formation of swollen, elongated reverse micelles elevates the extraction of metal ions with increased H-bonds under acidic condition. These new insights into H-bonds are of broad interest to nanosynthesis and biological applications, in addition to metal ion separations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1440-1444
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 17 2014


  • coordination chemistry
  • hydrogen bonds
  • reverse micelle
  • self-assembly
  • solvent extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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