Langmuir, Vol.32, No.3, 889-899, 2016
Combined Experimental and Computational Study of the Gelation of Cyclohexane-Based Bis(acyl-semicarbazides) and the Multi-Stimuli-Responsive Properties of Their Gels
The current study reports the one-step synthesis and gelation properties of cyclohexane-based bis(acyl-semicarbazide) gelators with an additional -NH group incorporated into urea moieties and carrying hydrophobic chains of varying length (C-8-C-18). The gels exhibited thermoreversibility and could be tuned in the presence of anions at different concentrations in addition their the ultrasound-responsive nature, thus making them multi-stimuli-responsive. The combined experimental and computational study on these gels reveals that the balance between two noncovalent interactions, viz., hydrogen bonding between the amide groups in acyl-semicarbazide moieties and van der Waals forces between long hydrocarbon tails, is found to be the determining factor in the process of organogelation. A systematic increase in alkyl chain length leads to equilibrium between these two types of noncovalent forces that is manifested in the spectral and thermal properties of the gels. The H-bonding interactions dominated up to a certain chain length, and further increases in the alkyl chain length led to increased van der Waals interactions as observed by IR, XRD, and thermal studies. Computational calculations were carried out on dimer structures of C-8-C-18 to understand the variation in noncovalent forces responsible for aggregate formation in the gel state as a function of the alkyl chain length. The results indicate that both intermolecular and intramolecular hydrogen bonding stabilize the aggregate structures. Supramolecular aggregation in the gel state led to the viscoelastic nature of the gels, and the addition of anions led to the disruption of self-assembly, which was studied by rheology.