Ionic liquid (IL) surfactants have attracted great interest as promising substitutes for conventional surfactants owing to their exceptional and favorable physico-chemical properties. However, most IL surfactants are not eco-friendly and form unstable micelles, even when using a high concentration of the surfactant. In this study, we prepared a series of halogen-free and biocompatible choline-fatty-acid-based ILs with different chain lengths and degrees of saturation, and we then investigated their micellar properties in aqueous solutions. Characterization of the synthesized surface-active ILs (SAILs) was performed by 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and elemental analysis. The surface-active properties of the SAILs were investigated by tensiometry, conductometry, and dynamic light scattering measurements. The critical micelle concentration of the SAILs was found to be 2-4 times lower than those of conventional surfactants. The thermodynamic properties of micellization (ΔG0m, ΔH0m, and ΔS0m) indicate that the micellization process of the SAILs is spontaneous, stable, and entropy-driven at room temperature. The cytotoxicity of the SAILs was evaluated using mammalian cell line NIH 3T3. Importantly, [Cho][Ole] shows lower toxicity than the analogous ILs with conventional surfactants. These results clearly suggest that these environmentally friendly SAILs can be used as a potential alternative to conventional ILs for various purposes, including biological applications.
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