Annealing multicomponent supramolecular gels
Annealing is widely used as a means of changing the physical properties of a material. The rate of heating and cooling used in the annealing process controls the final properties. Annealing can be used as a means of driving towards the, or at least a, thermodynamic minimum. There is surprisingly little information on annealing kinetically-trapped supramolecular gels. Here, we show that annealing multicomponent gels can be used to prepare materials with tunable mechanical properties. We show that annealing in a two-component gel leads to a self-sorted network, which has significantly different mechanical properties to the as-prepared gels. Whilst the fibres are self-sorted, we show that the annealing of this system leads to significant change in the network level of assembly, and it is this that leads to the increase in storage modulus. We also show that it is possible to selectively anneal only a single component in the mixture.
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