The ability to assemble chemically different gelator molecules into complex supramolecular hydrogels provides excellent opportunities to construct functional soft materials. Herein, we demonstrate the formation of hybrid nucleotide–amino acid supramolecular hydrogels. These are generated by the silver ion (Ag+)-triggered formation of silver–guanosine monophosphate (GMP) dimers, which undergo self-assembly through non-covalent interactions to produce nanofilaments. This process results in a concomitant pH reduction due to the abstraction of a proton from the guanine residue, which triggers the in situ gelation of a pH-sensitive amino acid, N-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl tyrosine (FY), to form nucleotide–amino acid hybrid hydrogels. Alterations in the supramolecular structures due to changes in the assembly process are observed, with the molar ratio of Ag:GMP:FY affecting the assembly kinetics, and the resulting supramolecular organisation and mechanical properties of the hydrogels. Higher Ag:GMP stoichiometries result in almost instantaneous gelation with non-orthogonal assembly of the gelators, while at lower molar ratios, orthogonal assembly is observed. Significantly, by increasing the pH as an external stimulus, nanofilaments comprising FY can be selectively disassembled from the hybrid hydrogels. Our results demonstrate a simple approach for the construction of multicomponent stimuli-responsive supramolecular hydrogels with adaptable network and mechanical properties.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: We acknowledge the EPSRC (EP/G036780/1) and the Bristol Centre for Functional Nano-materials for project funding. The authors thank Jean-Charles Eloi and Sean Davis for assistance with TEM and Maddy Nichols for assistance with DSC experiments. The data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper, and its supplementary information files are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- hybrid hydrogels
- supramolecular hydrogels
- Stimuli Responsive