Thermo-responsive gels based on supramolecular assembly of an amidoamine and citric acid†
In this work, we report the formation of a novel, aqueous-based thermo-responsive, supramolecular gelling system prepared by a convenient and efficient self-assembly of a long-chain amino-amide and citric acid. To determine the viscosity behavior and to gain insights into the gelation mechanism, a complementary combination of techniques, including Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and sinusoidal oscillatory tests, were used. The supramolecular gelator exhibited remarkably reversible sol–gel transitions induced by temperature at 76 °C. At a concentration of 5 wt%, the zero-frequency viscosity of the supramolecular system increased by about four orders of magnitude (from 4.2 to 12 563 Pa s) by changing the temperature from 23 °C to 76 °C. The viscous nature of the supramolecular gel could be preserved up to 90 °C. The synergistic combination of the hydrogen bonding between amino and carboxylic acid groups and the electrostatic interactions arising from the protonation of the amino-group and the deprotonation of carboxylic acid groups enhanced at higher temperatures is presumably responsible for the thermo-responsive behavior. We anticipate that these supramolecular gelators can be beneficial in various applications such as hydrogel scaffolds for regenerative medicine, personal care products and cosmetics, and enhanced oil recovery as viscosity modifiers.