Controllable self-patterning behaviours of flexible self-assembling peptide nanofibers†
In recent years, fabricating flexible one-dimensional nanofibers with a high aspect ratio and controlling their two-dimensional patterns on a certain surface have attracted more and more attention. Although molecular self-assembly as a useful strategy has been widely used to obtain nanofibers from soft materials such as peptides and polymers, extremely long nanofibers with high flexibility were rarely reported, and it's even more challenging to organize these organic nanofibers into ordered patterns in a controllable manner. In this study, we designed a flat-wedge-shaped bolaamphiphilic peptide which could self-assemble into ultra-flexible long nanofibers. These nanofibers were deposited on a mica surface by long-term incubation and exhibited various self-patterning behaviours as controlled by intended treatment. By changing the incubation time on the mica surface, vapour pH in the incubation device, and the peptide concentration, various patterns including nanofiber coils, parallel or single straight long nanofibers, and a network of hexagonally aligned short nanofibers could be obtained. These results indicated that not only the nanostructure formed by self-assembling peptides, but also the higher-order patterning behaviour of the nanostructures could be rationally controlled, providing a promising strategy for fabricating complicated nanoscale architectures with various potential applications.