From Photoinduced Supramolecular Polymerization to Responsive Organogels

Fan Xu, Lukas Pfeifer, Stefano Crespi, Franco King Chi Leung, Marc C.A. Stuart, Sander J. Wezenberg, Ben L. Feringa

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Controlling supramolecular polymerization by external stimuli holds great potential toward the development of responsive soft materials and manipulating self-assembly at the nanoscale. Photochemical switching offers the prospect of regulating the structure and properties of systems in a noninvasive and reversible manner with spatial and temporal control. In addition, this approach will enhance our understanding of supramolecular polymerization mechanisms; however, the control of molecular assembly by light remains challenging. Here we present photoresponsive stiff-stilbene-based bis-urea monomers whose trans isomers readily form supramolecular polymers in a wide range of organic solvents, enabling fast light-triggered depolymerization-polymerization and reversible gel formation. Due to the stability of the cis isomers and the high photostationary states (PSS) of the cis-trans isomerization, precise control over supramolecular polymerization and in situ gelation could be achieved with short response times. A detailed study on the temperature-dependent and photoinduced supramolecular polymerization in organic solvents revealed a kinetically controlled nucleation-elongation mechanism. By application of a Volta phase plate to enhance the phase-contrast method in cryo-EM, unprecedented for nonaqueous solutions, uniform nanofibers were observed in organic solvents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5990-5997
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'From Photoinduced Supramolecular Polymerization to Responsive Organogels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this