Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Journal of the American Chemical Society
Hierarchical compartmentalization through bottom-up approach is ubiquitous in living cells, but remains a formidable task in synthetic systems. Here we report on hierarchically compartmentalized supramolecular gels that are spontaneously formed by multilevel self-sorting. Two types of molecular gelators are formed in situ from non-assembling building blocks and self-assemble into distinct gel fibers through a kinetic self-sorting process; interestingly, these distinct fibers further self-sort into separated microdomains, leading to microscale compartmentalized gel networks. Such spontaneously multilevel self-sorting systems provide a "bottom-up" approach towards hierarchically structured functional materials, and may play a role in intracellular organization.