Hierarchical self-assembly is an effective means of preparing useful materials. However, control over assembly across length scales is a difficult challenge, often confounded by the perceived need to redesign the molecular building blocks when new material properties are needed. Here, we show that we can treat a simple dipeptide building block as a polyelectrolyte and use polymer physics approaches to explain the self-assembly over a wide concentration range. This allows us to determine how entangled the system is and therefore how it might be best processed, enabling us to prepare interesting analogues to threads and webs, as well as films that lose order on heating and "noodles" which change dimensions on heating, showing that we can transfer micellar-level changes to bulk properties all from a single building block.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2022, The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/]. Acknowledgements & Funding:
The authors thank the University of Glasgow (LT) and the Leverhulme Trust (DM, RPG-2018-013 and LM, RPG-2019-165) for funding. L.S. thanks the BBSRC for funding (BB/S003657/1). This work benefitted from the SasView software, originally developed by the DANSE project under NSF award DMR-0520547. The Ganesha X-ray scattering apparatus was purchased under EPSRC Grant “Atoms to Applications” (EP/K035746/1).
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