Self-sorted supramolecular nanofibres—a multicomponent system that consists of several types of fibre, each composed of distinct building units—play a crucial role in complex, well-organized systems with sophisticated functions, such as living cells. Designing and controlling self-sorting events in synthetic materials and understanding their structures and dynamics in detail are important elements in developing functional artificial systems. Here, we describe the in situ real-time imaging of self-sorted supramolecular nanofibre hydrogels consisting of a peptide gelator and an amphiphilic phosphate. The use of appropriate fluorescent probes enabled the visualization of self-sorted fibres entangled in two and three dimensions through confocal laser scanning microscopy and super-resolution imaging, with 80 nm resolution. In situ time-lapse imaging showed that the two types of fibre have different formation rates and that their respective physicochemical properties remain intact in the gel. Moreover, we directly visualized stochastic non-synchronous fibre formation and observed a cooperative mechanism.
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The authors thank K. Matsuda, M. Suginome and Y. Nagata (Kyoto University) for CD spectra measurements, U. Schwarz (Leica Microsystems) for STED microscopy, Y. Sato (Carl Zeiss Microimaging Co.) for making 3D CLSM images and T. Hirose (Kyoto University) for support with TEM. The authors acknowledge financial support from the CREST (Core Research for Evolutionary Science and Technology) programme of JST (the Japan Science and Technology Agency).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Onogi, S., Shigemitsu, H., Yoshii, T. et al. In situ real-time imaging of self-sorted supramolecular nanofibres. Nature Chem 8, 743–752 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2526
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