Using small angle scattering to understand low molecular weight gels

Daniel McDowall, Dave J. Adams*, Annela M. Seddon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


The material properties of a gel are determined by the underpinning network that immobilises the solvent. When gels are formed by the self-assembly of small molecules into a so-called low molecular weight gel, the network is the result of the molecules forming one-dimensional objects such as fibres or nanotubes which entangle or otherwise cross-link to form a three-dimensional network. Characterising the one-dimensional objects and the network is difficult. Many conventional techniques rely on drying to probe the network, which often leads to artefacts. An effective tool to probe the gel in the solvated state is small angle scattering. Both small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) can be used. Here, we discuss these approaches and provide a tutorial review to describe how these approaches work, what opportunities there are and how the data treatment should be approached. We aim to show the power of this approach and provide enabling information to make them accessible to the non-specialist. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577-1590
Number of pages14
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Leverhulme Trust for funding (RPG-2018-013). We would like to thank the many collaborators who have been critical in developing the understanding that we have for using small angle scattering to probe self-assembled gels. Most particularly, we would like to thank Dr Emily Draper (University of Glasgow), Professor Peter Griffiths (University of Greenwich), Dr Ralf Schweins (ILL) and Dr Steve King (ISIS) for their extensive help and insights over the last few years.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.


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