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1,3:2,4-Dibenzylidene-d-sorbitol (DBS) and its derivatives-efficient, versatile and industrially-relevant low-molecular-weight gelators with over 100 years of history and a bright future

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JournalSoft Matter
DatePublished - 28 Jun 2015
Issue number24
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)4768-4787
Original languageEnglish


Dibenzylidene-d-sorbitol (DBS) has been a well-known low-molecular-weight gelator of organic solvents for over 100 years. As such, it constitutes a very early example of a supramolecular gel-a research field which has recently developed into one of intense interest. The ability of DBS to self-assemble into sample-spanning networks in numerous solvents is predicated upon its 'butterfly-like' structure, whereby the benzylidene groups constitute the 'wings' and the sorbitol backbone the 'body'-the two parts representing the molecular recognition motifs underpinning its gelation mechanism, with the nature of solvent playing a key role in controlling the precise assembly mode. This gelator has found widespread applications in areas as diverse as personal care products and polymer nucleation/clarification, and has considerable potential in applications such as dental composites, energy technology and liquid crystalline materials. Some derivatives of DBS have also been reported which offer the potential to expand the scope and range of applications of this family of gelators and endow the nansocale network with additional functionality. This review aims to explain current trends in DBS research, and provide insight into how by combining a long history of application, with modern methods of derivatisation and analysis, the future for this family of gelators is bright, with an increasing number of high-tech applications, from environmental remediation to tissue engineering, being within reach.

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© Royal Society of Chemistry 2015. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Soft Matter. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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