High-Tech Applications of Self-Assembling Supramolecular Nanostructured Gel-Phase Materials: From Regenerative Medicine to Electronic Devices

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Abstract

It is likely that nanofabrication will underpin many technologies in the 21st century. Synthetic chemistry is a powerful approach to generate molecular structures that are capable of assembling into functional nanoscale architectures. There has been intense interest in self-assembling low-molecular-weight gelators, which has led to a general understanding of gelation based on the self-assembly of molecular-scale building blocks in terms of non-covalent interactions and packing parameters. The gelator molecules generate hierarchical, supramolecular structures that are macroscopically expressed in gel formation. Molecular modification can therefore control nanoscale assembly, a process that ultimately endows specific material function. The combination of supramolecular chemistry, materials science, and biomedicine allows application-based materials to be developed. Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering using molecular gels as nanostructured scaffolds for the regrowth of nerve cells has been demonstrated in vivo, and the prospect of using self-assembled fibers as one-dimensional conductors in gel materials has captured much interest in the field of nanoelectronics.

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