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Molecular Gels, Sugar Amphiphiles, Self-Assembly


Amphiphiles are molecules with both hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail groups. Examples of amphiphiles include surfactants, detergents, soaps, bile acids/salts and lipids. Due to their amphiphilic nature, they tend to self-assemble in solution via non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen-bonding, π-π stacking and donor–acceptor interactions to form hierarchical morphologies like micelles, lamellae and fibers. The ones capable of subsequently forming gels are known as low molecular weight gelators (LMWGs). LMWGs usually form “polymer-like” fibers that interact to form a three-dimentional network known as a Self-Assembled Fibrillar Network (SAFIN), which entraps and immobilizes the entire solvent pool to form a viscoeslatic material known as a molecular gel. Compared to their polymeric counterpart, molecular gels have several advantages like being thermoreversible, biocompatible, biogradable and derived from sustainable resources. The interest to develop LMWGs from sucralose stemmed from some interesting features of sucralose that include being derived from renewable biomass, noncaloric, noncariogenic and over 600 times sweeter than sucrose. We hereby present the synthesis of hydrogelators from sucralose via systematically synthesizing various derivatives and testing for their hydrogelation tendency. Our endeavor is to better understand the chemistry of sucralose as well as open a path towards the development of novel sucralose-based low molecular weight hydrogelators. The synthesized sucralose-based amphiphiles were characterized using techniques like 1H and 13C NMR, MS, FT-IR and Elemental Analysis. The amphiphiles were studied for their gelation capability, gelation efficiency and thermal stability in polar and nonpolar solvents and selected beverages. Three of the amphiphiles proved to be LMWGs for water and the selected beverages.

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