Two-dimensional crystallography of amphiphilic molecules at the air-water interface

D. Jacquemain, S. Grayer Wolf, F. Leveiller, M. Deutsch, K. Kjær, J. Als-Nielsen, M. Lahav, L. Leiserowitz

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    The advent of well-collimated, high-intensity synchrotron X-ray sources and the consequent development of surface-specific X-ray diffraction and fluorescence techniques have recently revolutionized the study of Langmuir monolayers at the air-liquid interface. These methods allowed for the first time the determination of the in-plane and vertical structure of such monolayers with a resolution approaching the atomic level. We briefly describe these methods, including grazing incidence X-ray diffraction, specular reflectivity, Bragg rods, standing waves, and surface fluorescence techniques, and review recent results obtained from them for Langmuir films. The methods have been successfully applied in the elucidation of the structure of crystalline aggregates of amphiphilic molecules such as alcohols, carboxylic acids and their salts, alpha-amino acids, and phospholipids at the water surface. In addition, it became possible to monitor by diffraction the growth and dissolution of the crystalline self-aggregates as well as structural changes occurring by phase transitions. Furthermore, the surface X-ray methods shed new light on the structure of the underlying ionic layer of attached solvent or solute species. Examples are given where singly or doubly charged ions bound to the two-dimensional (2D) crystal form either an ordered or diffuse counterionic layer. Finally, the surface diffraction methods provide data on transfer of structural information from 2D clusters to 3D single crystals, which had been successfully accomplished by epitaxial-like crystallization both in organic and inorganic crystals.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAngewandte Chemie International Edition
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)130-152
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


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