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Keywords:

  • gold nanoparticles;
  • fullerenes;
  • self-assembly;
  • stimuli-responsive materials;
  • supramolecular nanotubes

Abstract

Simple glycolipid N-alkaroyl-β-D-glucopyranosylamine 1(n) selectively self-assembles into sheets in water, nanotubes in alcohols, and helical nanocoils in toluene. All self-assemblies consist of bilayer membranes in which 1(n) packed in an interdigitated fashion. The outer surface of the sheet is covered with the hydrophilic glucose headgroup of 1(n), whereas those of the nanotube and helical nanocoil are covered with the hydrophobic alkyl-chain tail of 1(n). Heat treatment of the nanotube in the presence of water induces a rearrangement of the molecular packing of the outermost surface that allows the nanotube to become an effective nanocontainer for the dispersion of fullerene (C60) in water, a result of the ability of the hydrophilic outer surface of the nanotube and the hydrophobic nanochannel to encapsulate C60. The nanotube also exhibits photothermal characteristics after being hybridized with Au nanoparticles (AuNPs). The photothermal effect of the AuNPs allows the nanotube to unfold its tubular morphology and leads to compulsive release of the encapsulated C60 to the bulk water. Application of other nanotubes with similar photostimulated transformation ability should facilitate control of the dispersion/aggregation of other carbon nanomaterials, functional aromatic compounds, and drugs with low solubility in water.