Hydrogels are of intense recent interest in connection with biomedical applications ranging from 3-D cell cultures and stem cell differentiation to regenerative medicine, controlled drug delivery, and tissue engineering. This prototypical form of soft matter has many emerging material science applications outside the medical field. The physical processes underlying this type of solidification are incompletely understood, and this limits design efforts aimed at optimizing these materials for applications. We address this general problem by applying multiple techniques (e.g., NMR, dynamic light scattering, small angle neutron scattering, rheological measurements) to the case of a peptide derivative hydrogelator (molecule 1, NapFFKYp) over a broad range of concentration and temperature to characterize both the formation of individual nanofibers and the fiber network. We believe that a better understanding of the hierarchical self-assembly process and control over the final morphology of this kind of material should have broad significance for biological and medicinal applications utilizing hydrogels.
Gao, Y., Nieuwendaal, R., Dimitriadis, E., Hammouda, B., Douglas, J., Xu, B., & Horkay, F. (2016). Supramolecular Self-Assembly of a Model Hydrogelator: Characterization of Fiber Formation and Morphology. Gels, 2(4), 27. https://doi.org/10.3390/gels2040027