Self-assembly of two-component gels: stoichiometric control and component selection
Hirst, A. R., Miravet, J. E., Escuder, B., Noirez, L., Castelletto, V., Hamley, I. W. and Smith, D. K. (2009) Self-assembly of two-component gels: stoichiometric control and component selection. Chemistry-a European Journal, 15 (2). pp. 372-379. ISSN 0947-6539
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/chem.200801475
Two-component systems capable of self-assembling into soft gel-phase materials are of considerable interest due to their tunability and versatility. This paper investigates two-component gels based on a combination of a L-lysine-based dendron and a rigid diamine spacer (1,4-diaminobenzene or 1,4-diaminocyclohexane). The networked gelator was investigated using thermal measurements, circular dichroism, NMR spectroscopy and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) giving insight into the macroscopic properties, nanostructure and molecular-scale organisation. Surprisingly, all of these techniques confirmed that irrespective of the molar ratio of the components employed, the "solid-like" gel network always consisted of a 1:1 mixture of dendron/diamine. Additionally, the gel network was able to tolerate a significant excess of diamine in the "liquid-like" phase before being disrupted. In the light of this observation, we investigated the ability of the gel network structure to evolve from mixtures of different aromatic diamines present in excess. We found that these two-component gels assembled in a component-selective manner, with the dendron preferentially recognising 1,4-diaminobenzene (>70%). when similar competitor diamines (1,2- and 1,3-diaminobenzene) are present. Furthermore, NMR relaxation measurements demonstrated that the gel based oil 1,4-diaminobenzene was better able to form a selective ternary complex with pyrene than the gel based oil 1,4-diaminocyclohexane, indicative of controlled and selective pi-pi interactions within a three-component assembly. As such, the results ill this paper demonstrate how component selection processes in two-component gel systems call control hierarchical self-assembly.