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Chem Soc Rev. 2005 Oct;34(10):821-36. Epub 2005 Aug 23.

Supramolecular gels: functions and uses.

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  • 1Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


In recent years there has been immense interest in studying gels derived from low molecular mass gelators (supramolecular, or simply molecular gels). The motivation for this is not only to understand the fundamental aggregate structures in the gels at different length scales, but also to explore their potential for futuristic technological applications. Gels have been made sensitive to external stimuli like light and chemical entities by incorporating a spectroscopically active or a receptor unit as part of the gelator molecule. This makes them suitable for applications such as sensing and actuating. The diversity of gel structural architectures has allowed them to be utilized as templates to prepare novel inorganic superstructures for possible applications in catalysis and separation. Gels derived from liquid crystals (anisotropy gels) that can act as dynamically functional materials have been prepared, for example, for (re-writable) information recording. Supramolecular gels can be important in controlled release applications, in oil recovery, for gelling cryogenic fuels etc. They can also serve as media for a range of applications. This tutorial review highlights some of the instructive work done by various groups to develop smart and functional gels, and covers a wide spectrum of scientific interest ranging from medicine to materials science.

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