Fabrication of soft-nanocomposites from functional molecules with diversified applications
With the increasing demand for new soft materials having excellent physical and biological characteristics and functionality, the design of hybrid materials offers a simple, yet versatile platform for the development of materials with specific and tunable properties. By definition a “soft-nanocomposite” is the combination of supramolecular self-assemblies with nanomaterials of different origins (inorganic/metallic nanoparticles and carbonaceous allotropes like carbon nanotubes and graphene) through covalent/non-covalent interactions. Dynamic supramolecular self-assemblies can serve as excellent hosts for the incorporation of these dimensionally different nanomaterials. Nanomaterials within the matrix of supramolecular self-assemblies can give rise to new characteristics due to the synergistic contribution of both materials. Although the very initial work intended to use molecular gels as media for the preparation and stabilization of nanoparticles, recent reports have suggested that amalgamation of different supramolecular self-assemblies with nanoparticles is advantageous for both constituents. These newly developed soft-nanocomposites have interesting properties including electrical conductivity, viscoelasticity, thermal robustness, magnetic, phase-selective, redox and near-infrared radiation sensitive properties and so on. This review will focus on some of the most recent advancements in the development of novel soft-nanocomposites. In particular, we intend to correlate various design strategies for synthesis as well as composite preparation from functional molecules with interesting applications in the area of supercapacitors, nanoelectronics, photovoltaic devices, chemical and biosensors, biomedicine and so on. We expect that this article will be a general and conceptual demonstration of various approaches to develop different soft-nanocomposites and will highlight their applications across disciplines.