Reversible Photoreduction as a Trigger for Photoresponsive Gels

Emily R. Draper, Ralf Schweins, Riaz Akhtar, Philip Groves, Victor Chechik, Martijn A. Zwijnenburg, Dave J. Adams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present here a new type of photoresponsive, reversible low molecular weight gel. All previous examples rely on a photoisomerisation, ring-closing or dimerization. We show that photoreduction of a perylene bisimide gelator results in the formation of a stable radical anion. The formation of the radical anion results in a change in the packing of the perylene bisimides in the self-assembled aggregates, leading to a change in fibrous network and an increase in the rheological properties of the gels. An increase in the rheological properties is extremely rare for a photoresponsive gel; normally, irradiation results in a gel-to-sol transition, and the gel falling apart. As the radical anion decays, which takes several hours in air, the original gel properties are restored. This photoreduction can be cycled many times. Finally, we show that the mechanical properties are different between irradiated and nonirradiated sections in a patterned gel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6336-6341
Number of pages6
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number17
Early online date23 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2016

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