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Nature communications

Photoswitchable gel assembly based on molecular recognition.


PMID 22215078

Abstract

The formation of effective and precise linkages in bottom-up or top-down processes is important for the development of self-assembled materials. Self-assembly through molecular recognition events is a powerful tool for producing functionalized materials. Photoresponsive molecular recognition systems can permit the creation of photoregulated self-assembled macroscopic objects. Here we demonstrate that macroscopic gel assembly can be highly regulated through photoisomerization of an azobenzene moiety that interacts differently with two host molecules. A photoregulated gel assembly system is developed using polyacrylamide-based hydrogels functionalized with azobenzene (guest) or cyclodextrin (host) moieties. Reversible adhesion and dissociation of the host gel from the guest gel may be controlled by photoirradiation. The differential affinities of α-cyclodextrin or β-cyclodextrin for the trans-azobenzene and cis-azobenzene are employed in the construction of a photoswitchable gel assembly system.