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Phenylalanine and derivatives as versatile low-molecular-weight gelators: design, structure and tailored function

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Abstract

Phenylalanine (Phe) is an essential amino acid classified as neutral and nonpolar due to the hydrophobic nature of the benzyl side chain. In the field of materials science, the chemical modification of phenylalanine at C or N terminus has enabled to synthesize a large number of low-molecular-weight gelators over the past decade. Thus, many physical (or supramolecular) softgel materials have been fabricated by self-assembly of Phe-derived building blocks, which can be programmed with atomic level information and modification. The process of self-assembly and gelation must balance the parameters that influence the solubility as well as the contrasting forces that dictate epitaxial growth into entangled fibrillar aggregates. Gelator–gelator and solvent–gelator interactions are known to be highly important for the gelation process, and the non-covalent nature of these interactions provides physical gels with important properties such as reversible phase transitions and responsiveness towards external stimuli. Among other applications, these gels have been used for drug delivery, as extracellular matrix for tissue engineering, for oil spills recovery, removal of dyes, extraction of heavy metals or pollutants, and for the detection of explosives. In this tutorial review, we highlight the advances in the design, synthesis and applications of supramolecular gels made of Phe and derivatives.

Graphical abstract: Phenylalanine and derivatives as versatile low-molecular-weight gelators: design, structure and tailored function

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Sep 2017, accepted on 03 Nov 2017 and first published on 03 Nov 2017


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7BM00882A
Citation: Biomater. Sci., 2018, Advance Article
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    Phenylalanine and derivatives as versatile low-molecular-weight gelators: design, structure and tailored function

    T. Das, M. Häring, D. Haldar and D. Díaz Díaz, Biomater. Sci., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7BM00882A

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