Control over the formation of supramolecular material objects using reaction–diffusion†
Controlled diffusion, reaction and assembly of hydrogelator precursors can be used to create soft hydrogel objects of defined shape and size. In this study we show that controlling local reaction kinetics by means of pH, diffusion length and the concentrations of reactants allows control over the dimensions of formed supramolecular structures. By correlating a reaction diffusion model to experimental results, we show that the influence of all these control parameters can be unified using the Damköhler number, thus providing an easy-to-use relation between experimental parameters and structure dimensions. Finally, our study suggests that control over concentration gradients and chemical reactivity in combination with supramolecular chemistry is a promising platform for the design of soft matter objects of defined sizes, a concept that has received little attention up until now.