ACS Macro Letters, 2015, vol 4, 1, pp. 43-47
Dynamic control over supramolecular interactions using various stimuli continues to drive the development of smart materials. We describe here the extension of dynamic self-assembly to a self-assembled hierarchical structure. A peptide amphiphile (PA) was designed with a photocleavable nitrobenzyl ester component such that it would undergo a sphere-to-cylinder transition upon irradiation, as confirmed by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The photocleavable PA was then tested in the formation of a macroscopic sac made through a complex hierarchical self-assembly process between PA and hyaluronic acid. The microstructure of the resulting sac has previously been noted to depend dramatically on the geometry of the PA nanostructure. Photolysis of the PA solution during sac formation led to a sac microstructure that displayed characteristics of sacs made with both cylinder-forming PAs and sphere-forming PAs, as measured by scanning electron microscopy and SAXS.