Gemini-type cationic surfactants containing carbonate linkages as biodegradable and chemically recyclable segments, consisting of two long-chain alkyl groups, two quaternary ammonium groups and a linker moiety, were designed and synthesized as novel green and sustainable cationics with improved physicochemical and biological activities. The gemini-type cationics containing a carbonate linkage showed lower critical micelle concentration values compared to the corresponding single-type cationics. Also, the gemini-type cationics containing a carbonate linkage in the linker moiety showed strong antimicrobial activities. The biodegradability of the gemini-type cationics was significantly improved when a carbonate linkage was introduced into the linker moiety. The maximum biochemical oxygen demand-biodegradability of the gemini-type cationics containing a carbonate linkage in the linker moiety exceeded 70% after a 28-day incubation. Furthermore, the gemini-type cationics containing both a carbonate linkage and an n-dodecyl group showed a chemical recyclability using a lipase (E.C. 22.214.171.124).
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