Chemistry – A European Journal, 2018, vol 24, 71, pp. 19066-19074
Breaking away from the linear structure of previously reported peptide-based gelators, this study reports the first example of gel formation based on the use of cyclic peptides made of alternating d- and l-amino acids, known to self-assemble in solution to form long nanotubes. Herein, a library of cyclic peptides was systemically studied for their gelation properties in various solvents, uncovering key parameters driving both organogel and hydrogel formation. The hierarchical nature of the self-assembly process in water was characterised by a combination of electron microscopy imaging and small-angle X-ray scattering, revealing a porous network of entangled nanofibres composed by the aggregation of several cyclic peptide nanotubes. Rheology measurements then confirmed the formation of soft hydrogels.