Multicomponent supramolecular systems could be used to prepare exciting new functional materials, but it is often challenging to control the assembly across multiple length scales. Here we report a simple approach to forming patterned, spatially resolved multicomponent supramolecular hydrogels. A multicomponent gel is first formed from two low-molecular-weight gelators and consists of two types of fibre, each formed by only one gelator. One type of fibre in this ‘self-sorted network’ is then removed selectively by a light-triggered gel-to-sol transition. We show that the remaining network has the same mechanical properties as it would have done if it initially formed alone. The selective irradiation of sections of the gel through a mask leads to the formation of patterned multicomponent networks, in which either one or two networks can be present at a particular position with a high degree of spatial control.
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E.R.D. thanks the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a Doctorial Training Accounts studentship. D.A. thanks the EPSRC for a Fellowship (EP/L021978/1).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Draper, E., Eden, E., McDonald, T. et al. Spatially resolved multicomponent gels. Nature Chem 7, 848–852 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2347
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