Systematic modifications of alkane-based molecular gelators and the consequences to the structures and properties of their gels
A systematic structural development of molecular gelators based on n-alkanes is presented. The properties of the resultant molecular gels with a wide range of liquids can, in some cases, be correlated with the structural modifications to the gelators and the natures of their self-assembled fibrillar networks as analyzed at different distance scales. A special emphasis is placed on 12-hydroxystearic acid and its derivatives in which the chirality, placement, and functionality of the hydroxyl group center have been varied and the carboxylic head group has been modified systematically. The resulting correlations between molecular gelator structure and the various properties of their gels provide a basis for the design of structurally more complex gelators. However, the nuances of the systems explored demonstrate that additional factors, some of which are currently not well understood, must be considered before a priori design of molecular gelators with specific gelating abilities will be possible.