The preparation of nanometer-scale pores, or nanopores, has become easy because of the progress in nanotechnology. Surfactants are promising materials for the preparation of nanostructures containing nanopores, because surfactants form many different phase structures, including cubic, micellar, and lamellar structures. We prepared a gel matrix with a cubic structure from a commercially available surfactant, polyoxyethylene(50) lauryl ether (C12EO50, Adekatol LA-50). This gel matrix had regularly arrayed nanopores between the packed spherical micelles. We used the gel to separate biomolecules by means of slab gel electrophoresis. The gel was applicable to migration of amino acids and peptides; however, larger molecules, such as proteins and single-walled carbon nanotubes, did not migrate through the gel. We concluded that the pore size was too small for the penetration of large molecules, and that only small molecules could penetrate the gel matrix. The migration mechanism of small molecules was similar to that observed in conventional gel electrophoresis. We concluded that the gel matrix prepared from surfactant is a promising matrix for migration and purification of small molecules. We also expect that the gel can be used as a nanoscale filter to trap large molecules, allowing only small molecules to pass.
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