Hydrophobic End-Modulated Amino-Acid-Based Neutral Hydrogelators: Structure-Specific Inclusion of Carbon Nanomaterials
Pritam Choudhury, Deep Mandal, Sayanti Brahmachari, Prasanta Kumar Das
Chemistry-A European Journal
Hydrophobic end-modulated l-phenylalanine-containing triethylene glycol monomethyl ether tagged neutral hydrogelators (1–4) are developed. Investigations determine the gelators’ structure-dependent inclusion of carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) in the self-assembled fibrillar network (SAFIN). The gelators (1, 3, and 4) can immobilize water and aqueous buffer (pH 3–7) with a minimum gelator concentration of 10–15 mg mL−1. The hydrophobic parts of the gelators are varied from a long chain (C-16) to an extended aromatic pyrenyl moiety, and their abilities to integrate 1 D and 2 D allotropes of carbon (i.e., single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and graphene oxide (GO), respectively) within the gel are investigated. Gelator 1, containing a long alkyl chain (C-16), can include SWNTs, whereas the pyrene-containing 4 can include both SWNTs and GO. Gelator 3 fails to incorporate SWNTs or GO owing to its slow rate of gelation and possibly a mismatch between the aggregated structure and CNMs. The involvement of various forces in self-aggregated gelation and physicochemical changes occurring through CNM inclusion are examined by spectroscopic and microscopic techniques. The distinctive pattern of self-assembly of gelators 1 and 4 through J- and H-type aggregation might facilitate the structure-specific CNM inclusion. Inclusion of SWNTs/GO within the hydrogel matrix results in a reinforcement in mechanical stiffness of the composites compared with that of the native hydrogels.
Circular dichroism, Aggregation, Secondary structure, Nanostructures, Biochemistry, Materials