A new family of urea-based low molecular-weight organogelators for environmental remediation: the influence of structure†
Gelation processes grant access to a wealth of soft materials with tailorable properties, in applications as diverse as environmental remediation, biomedicine and electronics. Several classes of self-assembling gelators have been studied and employ non-covalent bonds to direct assembly, but recently attention has come to focus on how the overall shape of the gelator molecule impacts its gelation. Here we study a new sub-family of low molecular weight organogelators and explore how steric rearrangement influences their gelation. The gels produced are characterised with X-ray diffraction and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to probe their ex situ and in situ gelation mechanisms. The best examples were then tested for environmental remediation applications, gelling petrol and oils in the presence of water and salts.