Progress in the direct structural characterization of fibrous amphiphilic supramolecular assemblies in solution by transmission electron microscopic techniques
H. von Berlepsch, K. Ludwig, B. Schade, R. Haag, and C. Böttcher – 2014
The self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules into fibrous structures has been the subject of numerous studies over past decades due to various current and promising technical applications. Although very different in their head group chemistry many natural as well as synthetic amphiphilic compounds derived from carbohydrates, carbocyanine dyes, or amino acids tend to form fibrous structures by molecular self-assembly in water predominantly twisted ribbons or tubes. Often a transition between these assembly structures is observed, which is a phenomenon already theoretically approached by Wolfgang Helfrich and still focus point in current research. With the development of suitable sample preparation and electron optical imaging techniques, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) in combination with three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction techniques has become a particular popular direct characterization technique for supramolecular assemblies in general. Here we review the recent progress in deriving precise structural information from cryo-TEM data of particularly fibrous structures preferably in three dimensions.