The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2018, vol 122, 15, pp. 4366-4375
The most critical problem regarding the use of reverse micelles (RMs) in several fields is the toxicity of their partial components. In this sense, many efforts have been made to characterize nontoxic RM formulations on the basis of biological amphiphiles and/or different oils. In this contribution, the microstructure of biocompatible mixed RMs formulated by sodium 1,4-bis-2-ethylhexylsulfosuccinate (AOT) and tri- n-octylphosphine oxide (TOPO) surfactants dispersed in the friendly solvent methyl laurate was studied by using SAXS and 31P NMR and by following the solvatochromic behavior of the molecular probe 4-aminophthalimide (4-AP). The results indicated the presence of RM aggregates upon TOPO incorporation with a droplet size reduction and an increase in the interfacial fluidity in comparison with pure AOT RMs. When confined inside the mixed systems, 4-AP showed a red-edge excitation shift and confirmed the increment of interfacial fluidity upon TOPO addition. Also, the partition between the external nonpolar solvent and the RM interface and an increase in both the local micropolarity and the capability to form a hydrogen bond interaction between 4-AP and a mixed interface were observed. The findings have been explained in terms of the nonionic surfactant structure and its complexing nature expressed at the interfacial level. Notably, we show how two different approaches, i.e., SAXS and the solvatochromism of the probe 4-AP, can be used in a complementary way to enhance our understanding of the interfacial fluidity of RMs, a parameter that is difficult to measure directly.