Beta-hexadecyl maltoside-d31, the surfactant produced at the ESS chemical deuteration lab; and the SANS data it contributed to (collected on the D11 instrument at the ILL).
The ESS DEMAX team held its first pilot call for scientific proposals earlier this year, in order to establish a system that runs smoothly in time for the first science to be performed on ESS instruments. The call offered a range of biologically and chemically deuterated materials as well as support for crystallisation. Nineteen proposals were received, requesting services across the three areas of expertise.
In June and July, the first deuterated molecules were delivered to proposers, and in July, one of these molecules was utilised in a SANS experiment on the D11 instrument at ILL. Johan Larsson, the principle investigator in the work, studies the self-assembly of sugar-based surfactants with applications in the formulations field, including shampoos and cosmetics. In order to tune the properties of the surfactants, he is investigating the use of combinations of sugar-based surfactants and other surfactant-like components. Using deuterated sugar-based surfactants allowed him to discriminate between the different components in the mixture.
Surfactants such as this one; lipids; monomers and other small molecules were requested from the ESS chemical deuteration during the first proposal call. Part of the significance of chemical deuteration is that it can be used to produce unnatural molecules, and we can introduce deuterium judiciously into the molecule. This unnatural surfactant molecule can be produced at ESS, with deuterium located at very specific locations – those which are required for the SANS experiment.