The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Research Award Recognizes Interactions of Surfactants with Biomimetic Membranes

  • ACI Distinguished Paper Award Presented at AOCS Annual Meeting
  • Findings can be Used for Screening and Development of New Detergents

Research that could be used for screening and developing new detergents based on biomimetic membranes has been recognized as the best paper published in 2021 in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents.

The authors were recognized during the 2022 American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Annual Meeting, held May 1-4 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Distinguished Paper Award is an annual honor presented by the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI).

Dr. Nikolai M. Kocherginsky, Founder and Chief Scientist, Next-ChemX and Dr. Brajendra K. Sharma, Senior Research Scientist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign co-authored the paper.

The article focuses on interactions of surfactants with biomimetic membranes, which are easy and inexpensive to make and can imitate biological membranes. When these membranes are fixed in a thermostatically controlled chamber separated into two compartments that contain stirred aqueous solutions, it may be considered as a simple model of a laundry machine. The results revealed that the addition of ionic surfactants into one of the solutions led to the formation of transmembrane electrical potential that is proportional to the logarithm of surfactant concentration. Thus, biomimetic membranes can be used as electrochemical sensors to detect and measure surfactant concentration.

When concentration is near the critical micelle concentration (CMC), a new phenomenon was observed, i.e., spontaneous oscillations of both transmembrane potential and transmembrane current, which mimics the opening and closing of aqueous channels in biological membranes.

A further increase of surfactant concentration led to a sharp 100-fold decrease of transmembrane electrical resistance and the disappearance of any transmembrane voltage. This effect, explained by the washing out of fatty acids from the pores, may be used for screening and development of new detergents.

“We are thrilled to be presented with this award.” said Dr. Kocherginsky and Dr. Sharma. “We are very proud of the article we published and are grateful that our work is being recognized and honored.”

The paper, “Interactions of Surfactants with Biomimetic Membranes. 1. Ionic Surfactants,” was published in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents, July 2021, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 661-667.

The American Cleaning Institute® (ACI – is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry® and represents the $60 billion U.S. cleaning product supply chain. ACI members include the manufacturers and formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and chemical distributors. ACI serves the growth and innovation of the U.S. cleaning products industry by advancing the health and quality of life of people and protecting our planet. ACI achieves this through a continuous commitment to sound science and being a credible voice for the cleaning products industry.