Pathway of vesicle formation

S U Egelhaaf, J Leng, A Salonen, P Schurtenberger, M E Cates

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The non-equilibrium behaviour of surfactant systems, such as the evolution of structures occurring during surfactant phase transitions, has not been much addressed. We investigated the transformation between a monolayer and bilayer topology as it for example occurs during vesicle formation. The spontaneous formation of lipid vesicles (liposomes) in aqueous lecithin/cholesterol/bile salt mixtures was studied using time-resolved light and neutron scattering. The data are in quantitative agreement with a kinetic model that we present. It identifies the key kinetic steps during vesicle formation: rapid transformation to disc-like intermediate micelles, growth of these micelles and closure to form vesicles. Our model furthermore reproduces the correct trend of vesicle size as a function of composition, which equilibrium calculations fail to predict. This indicates that the properties of our vesicles are controlled by kinetics rather than thermodynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSELF-ASSEMBLY
EditorsBH Robinson
Place of PublicationAMSTERDAM
PublisherI O S PRESS
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1-58603-382-4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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