Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

George John


LMWG, molecular gels, gelator, trehalose, mannitol


Gels represent an indispensable part of our everyday lives with direct applications in food, medicine, cosmetics and other industries. Amphiphilic molecules have been shown to act as low molecular weight gelators (LMWGs) and are becoming the main focus of several research groups. Their ability to self-assemble into various morphologies from micelles to bilayer sheets, and remain stable due to noncovalent forces responsible for the formation of the 3D network—Self-Assembled Fibrillar Network (SAFiNs)—is in the core of their ability to produce molecular gels. Those amphiphilic molecules capable of adsorbing at the interface and behaving as surface active agents are known as surfactants. Alcohol sugars have been successfully used for the synthesis of LMWGs and found their application across various industries. Trehalose has been used in cosmetic products as antioxidant, skin protectant and moisturizer, while mannitol has found extensive applications in food industry. We hereby present an environmentally-friendly synthetic procedure of trehalose- and mannitol-based derivatives, their characterization, gelation ability and surface activity. In this work these gelators are explored for their potential application in cosmetic and food industries as a replacement for waxes and as microgel particles. Both trehalose- and mannitol-based gelators were characterized via 1H NMR, 13C NMR, and FT-IR. Initial tests on the new amphiphiles confirmed their gelation potential in a wide variety of organic solvents including vegetable oils. Lip balm formulations were prepared in which waxes were completely replaced with trehalose-based gelators. Rheological tests of the resulting formulations revealed that the new formulations were not only comparable to currently available commercial lip balms, but also exhibited an increased elasticity of the final product. A series of surface tension and microfluidics experiments on mannitol-based gelator confirmed its ability to act as a surface-active agent and to gel at the water-oil interface producing stable water droplets.

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