Steric constraints induced frustrated growth of supramolecular nanorods in water

R. Appel, J. Fuchs, S.M. Tyrrell, P.A. Korevaar, M.C.A. Stuart, I.K. Voets, M. Schönhoff, P. Besenius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
354 Downloads (Pure)


A unique example of supramolecular polymerisation in water based on monomers with nanomolar affinities, which yield rod-like materials with extraordinarily high thermodynamic stability, yet of finite length, is reported. A small library of charge-neutral dendritic peptide amphiphiles was prepared, with a branched nonaphenylalanine-based core that was conjugated to hydrophilic dendrons of variable steric demand. Below a critical size of the dendron, the monomers assemble into nanorod-like polymers, whereas for larger dendritic side chains frustrated growth into near isotropic particles is observed. The supramolecular morphologies observed by electron microscopy, X-ray scattering and diffusion NMR spectroscopy studies are in agreement with the mechanistic insights obtained from fitting polymerisation profiles: non-cooperative isodesmic growth leads to degrees of polymerisation that match the experimentally determined nanorod contour lengths of close to 70 nm. The reported designs for aqueous self-assembly into well-defined anisotropic particles has promising potential for biomedical applications and the development of functional supramolecular biomaterials, with emerging evidence that anisotropic shapes in carrier design outperform conventional isotropic materials for targeted imaging and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19257-19264
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry : A European Journal
Issue number52
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2015


  • amphiphiles
  • nanomaterials
  • polymers
  • self-assembly
  • supramolecular chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Steric constraints induced frustrated growth of supramolecular nanorods in water'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this