Responsive nematic gels from the self-assembly of aqueous nanofibres

Zhegang Huang, Hyojin Lee, Eunji Lee, Seong-Kyun Kang, Jwa-Min Nam, Myongsoo Lee
2011 Nature Communications  
Aqueous nanofibres constructed by the self-assembly of small amphiphilic molecules can become entangled to form hydrogels that have a variety of applications including tissue engineering, and controlled drug delivery. The hydrogels are formed through the random physical cross-linkings of flexible nanofibres. Here we report that self-assembled nanofibres with a nematic substructure are aligned into a nematic liquid crystal and are spontaneously fixed in the aligned state to give rise to
more » ... ic gels. The liquid-crystal gels respond to temperature by transforming into a fluid solution upon cooling. Thus, the nanofibre solution can be mixed with cells at room temperature and then can be transformed into gels to encapsulate the cells in a three-dimensional environment upon being heated to physiological temperatures. We found that the cells grow within the three-dimensional networks without compromising the cell viability, and that subsequent cooling triggers the encapsulated cells to be released through a sol-gel transition.
doi:10.1038/ncomms1465 pmid:21897370 fatcat:6ygjp6sp5zgrthvyeegd2konuq