The implementation of stimuli-responsive materials with dynamically controllable features has long been an important objective that challenges chemists in the materials science field. We report here the synthesis and characterization of rotaxanes (R1 and R1-b) with a molecular shuttle and photoresponsive properties. Axles T1 and T1-b were found to be highly efficient and versatile organogelators toward various nonpolar organic solvents, especially p-xylene, with critical gelation concentrations as low as 0.67 and 0.38 w/v %, respectively. The two molecular stations of switchable rotaxanes (R1 and R1-b) can be revealed or concealed by t-butylcalixarene macrocycle, thus inhibiting the gelation processes of the respective axles T1 and T1-b through the control of intermolecular hydrogen-bonding interactions. The sol-gel transition of axles T1 and T1-b could be achieved by the irradiation of UV-visible light, which interconverted between the extended and contracted forms. Interestingly, the morphologies of organogels in p-xylene, including flakes, nanobelts, fibers, and vesicles depending on the molecular structures of axles T1 and T1-b, were induced by UV-visible light irradiation. Further studies revealed that acid-base-controllable and reversible self-assembled nanostructures of these axle molecules were mainly constructed by the interplay of multi-noncovalent interactions, such as intermolecular π-πstacking, CH-π, and intermolecular hydrogen-bonding interactions. Surprisingly, our TPE molecular systems (R1, R1-b, T1, and T1-b) are nonemissive in their aggregated states, suggesting that not only fluorescence resonance energy transfer but also aggregation-caused quenching may have been functioning. Finally, the mechanical strength of these organogels in various solvents was monitored by rheological experiments.
- diversiform structures
- sol-gel transitions
- tetraphenylethene-based rotaxanes