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Stimuli-Responsive Supramolecular Chirality Switching and Nanoassembly Constructed by n‑Shaped Amphiphilic Molecules in Aqueous Solution

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journal contribution
posted on 11.01.2021, 07:45 by Yuntian Yang, Qingqing Han, Yi-rong Pei, Shengsheng Yu, Zhegang Huang, Long Yi Jin
Self-assembled nanomaterials composed of amphiphilic oligomers with functional groups have been applied in the fields of biomimetic chemistry and on-demand delivery systems. Herein, we report the assembly behavior and unique properties of an emergent n-shaped rod–coil molecule containing an azobenzene (AZO) group upon application of an external stimulus (thermal, UV light). The n-shaped amphiphilic molecules comprising an aromatic segment based on anthracene, phenyl linked with azobenzene groups, and hydrophilic oligoether (chiral) segments self-assemble into large strip-like sheets and perforated-nanocage fragments in an aqueous environment, depending on the flexible oligoether chains. Interestingly, the nano-objects formed in aqueous solution undergo a morphological transition from sheets and nanocages to small one-dimensional nanofibers. These molecules exhibit reversible photo- and thermal-responsiveness, accompanied by a change in the supramolecular chirality caused by the conformational transitions of the rod backbone. The architecture of n-shaped amphiphilic molecules with a photosensitive group makes them ideal candidates for intelligent materials for applications in advanced materials science.

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