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Hierarchically Compartmentalized Supramolecular Gels through Multilevel Self-Sorting

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posted on 18.12.2018, 00:00 by Yiming Wang, Matija Lovrak, Qian Liu, Chandan Maity, Vincent A. A. le Sage, Xuhong Guo, Rienk Eelkema, Jan H. van Esch
Hierarchical compartmentalization through the bottom-up approach is ubiquitous in living cells but remains a formidable task in synthetic systems. Here we report on hierarchically compartmentalized supramolecular gels that are spontaneously formed by multilevel self-sorting. Two types of molecular gelators are formed in situ from nonassembling building blocks and self-assemble into distinct gel fibers through a kinetic self-sorting process; interestingly, these distinct fibers further self-sort into separated microdomains, leading to microscale compartmentalized gel networks. Such spontaneously multilevel self-sorting systems provide a “bottom-up” approach toward hierarchically structured functional materials and may play a role in intracellular organization.