Biological macroscopic assemblies have inspired researchers to utilize molecular recognition to develop smart materials in these decades. Recently, macroscopic self-assemblies based on molecular recognition have been realized using millimeter-scale hydrogel pieces possessing molecular recognition moieties. During the study on macroscopic self-assembly based on molecular recognition, we noticed that the shape of assemblies might be dependent on the host–guest pair. In this study, we were thus motivated to study the macroscopic shape of assemblies formed through host–guest interaction. We modified crosslinked poly(sodium acrylate) microparticles, i.e., superabsorbent polymer (SAP) microparticles, with β-cyclodextrin (βCD) and adamantyl (Ad) residues (βCD(x)-SAP and Ad(y)-SAP microparticles, respectively, where x and y denote the mol% contents of βCD and Ad residues). Then, we studied the self-assembly behavior of βCD(x)-SAP and Ad(y)-SAP microparticles through the complexation of βCD with Ad residues. There was a threshold of the βCD content in βCD(x)-SAP microparticles for assembly formation between x = 22.3 and 26.7. On the other hand, the shape of assemblies was dependent on the Ad content, y; More elongated assemblies were formed at a higher y. This may be because, at a higher y, small clusters formed in an early stage can stick together even upon collisions at a single contact point to form elongated aggregates, whereas, at a smaller y, small clusters stick together only upon collisions at multiple contact points to give rather circular assemblies. On the basis of these observations, the shape of assembly formed from microparticles can be controlled by varying y.
Itami, T., Hashidzume, A., Kamon, Y. et al. The macroscopic shape of assemblies formed from microparticles based on host–guest interaction dependent on the guest content. Sci Rep 11, 6320 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85816-z