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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Photoresponsive Structured Liquids Enabled by Molecular Recognition at Liquid–Liquid Interfaces


Using host-guest molecular recognition at the oil-water interface, a new type of photoresponsive nanoparticle surfactant (NPS) was designed and prepared to structure liquids. With the help of a polymeric surfactant, the interfacial host-guest interactions can be significantly enhanced, leading to the rapid formation and assembly of a NP monolayer and offering sufficient binding energy to hold the NPs in a jammed state. The assembly of the NPSs can be reversibly manipulated via a photoswitchable jamming-to-unjamming transition, endowing the interface as well as the macroscopic assemblies with responsiveness to the external trigger (photons). This study for the first time opens a pathway for the construction of multiresponsive, structured all-liquid systems by introducing host-guest chemistry, showing promising potential applications in encapsulation, delivery systems, and unique microfluidic devices.

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