Chapter 7: Catalysis at the Confined Interface of Supramolecular Gels
Published:16 Aug 2021
Supramolecular gels, formed by the self-assembly of low-molecular-weight compounds, are unique materials for the application in catalysis. They are synthetically simple and easy to prepare by a self-instructed bottom-up process achieving a high efficiency from an atom economy point of view. The catalytic groups are added at the molecular level and displayed at the supramolecular level with a precision dictated by their self-assembly mechanism. Then, arrays of functional groups can be located in close proximity, and cooperative catalytic features may emerge. Moreover, the combination of several gelators in a multicomponent gel allows it to mimic more precisely enzyme-active sites and perform cascade reactions in one pot. Remarkably, supramolecular gels have aspects of both heterogeneous and homogeneous materials. Their high solvent compatibility and porosity make them different from other simple solid-supported catalysts. In addition, nanoscale dimensions lead to a high internal surface area available for catalysis. Here we give an insight into the potential of supramolecular gels in catalysis, which is still scarcely developed and extends to the fields of applied materials science, biomimetic chemistry and systems chemistry, amongst others.