pH- and temperature-responsive supramolecular assemblies with highly adjustable viscoelasticity: a multi-stimuli binary system. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stimuli-responsive materials are increasingly needed for the development of smart electronic, mechanical, and biological devices and systems relying on switchable, tunable, and adaptable properties. Herein, we report a novel pH- and temperature-responsive binary supramolecular assembly involving a long-chain hydroxyamino amide (HAA) and an inorganic hydrotrope, boric acid, with highly tunable viscous and viscoelastic properties. The system under investigation demonstrates a high degree of control over its viscosity, with the capacity to achieve over four orders of magnitude of control through the concomitant manipulation of pH and temperature. In addition, the transformation from non-Maxwellian to Maxwellian fluid behavior could also be induced by changing the pH and temperature. Switchable rheological properties were ascribed to the morphological transformation between spherical vesicles, aggregated/fused spherical vesicles, and bicontinuous gyroid structures revealed by cryo-TEM studies. The observed transitions are attributed to the modulation of the head group spacing between HAA molecules under different pH conditions. Specifically, acidic conditions induce electrostatic repulsion between the protonated amino head groups, leading to an increased spacing. Conversely, under basic conditions, the HAA head group spacing is reduced due to the intercalation of tetrahydroxyborate, facilitated by hydrogen bonding.

published proceedings

  • Soft Matter

author list (cited authors)

  • Lin, Y., Liu, S., Bhat, B., Kuan, K., Zhou, W., Cobos, I. J., Kwon, J., & Akbulut, M.

complete list of authors

  • Lin, Yu-Ting||Liu, Shuhao||Bhat, Bhargavi||Kuan, Kai-Yuan||Zhou, Wentao||Cobos, Ignacio Jose||Kwon, Joseph Sang-Il||Akbulut, Mustafa ES

publication date

  • July 2023