Structure Characterization and Properties of Metal–Surfactant Complexes Dispersed in Organic Solvents

This work describes the synthesis and characterization of metal–surfactant complexes. Dioctyl sulfosuccinate and dodecylbenzenesulfonate are associated with multivalent aluminum, iron, and vanadium ions using an ion exchange reaction. The metal complexes are dispersible in various organic solvents. In solvents with low polarity, the complexes form “inverse” macromolecular structures with multiple metal ions. In contrast, in alcohols, the complex size is reduced, showing a more disperse conformation. The metal and surfactant ions are still strongly bonded to each other in all the solvents probed. Small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS and SANS) are used to characterize the structures. Simultaneous fitting of neutron and X-ray scattering spectra is performed in order to obtain an accurate description of the system. Scattering results are also validated by performing molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The conductive and electrochemical properties of the complexes in solution are also evaluated. The dispersion of metal–organic complexes significantly increases electric conductivity, and some metal ions in the core of the complexes are shown to be electrochemically active in apolar solvents.