Sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS) and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) dispersed in aqueous solution form catanionic vesicles. Depending on composition, such vesicles show different net charge, stability, and interaction capability, indicative of the strong impact that catanionic systems may have in gene therapy and drug delivery technologies. To reveal the interplay among composition, net charge, sensitivity to temperature changes, vesicle size, and inner structure, a series of experiments on catanionic vesicles prepared at different SDS/CTAB mole ratios was performed. Dynamic light scattering, small-angle X-ray scattering, and zeta-potential experiments allow one to characterize an unexpected critical phenomenon at the nanoscale level. On heating, vesicles increase in size, but at a critical temperature an abrupt vesicle size reduction has been observed, together with a transition from multi- to a unilamellar state. The critical temperature regularly depends on the SDS/CTAB mole ratio. The unilamellar state obtained upon heating is retained for weeks. These phenomena suggest a new way to produce stable unilamellar vesicles with tunable size and charge
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