Chemical Reviews, Vol.120, No.4, 2347-2407, 2020
Soft-Matter Nanotubes: A Platform for Diverse Functions and Applications
Self-assembled organic nanotubes made of single or multiple molecular components can be classified into soft-matter nanotubes (SMNTs) by contrast with hard-matter nanotubes, such as carbon and other inorganic nanotubes. To date, diverse selfassembly processes and elaborate template procedures using rationally designed organic molecules have produced suitable tubular architectures with definite dimensions, structural complexity, and hierarchy for expected functions and applications. Herein, we comprehensively discuss every functions and possible applications of a wide range of SMNTs as bulk materials or single components. This Review highlights valuable contributions mainly in the past decade. Fifteen different families of SMNTs are discussed from the viewpoints of chemical, physical, biological, and medical applications, as well as action fields (e.g., interior, wall, exterior, whole structure, and ensemble of nanotubes). Chemical applications of the SMNTs are associated with encapsulating materials and sensors. SMNTs also behave, while sometimes undergoing morphological transformation, as a catalyst, template, liquid crystal, hydro-/organogel, superhydrophobic surface, and micron size engine. Physical functions pertain to ferro-/piezoelectricity and energy migration/storage, leading to the applications to electrodes or supercapacitors, and mechanical reinforcement. Biological functions involve artificial chaperone, transmembrane transport, nanochannels, and channel reactors. Finally, medical functions range over drug delivery, nonviral gene transfer vector, and virus trap.