Nanoengineering of a Supramolecular Gel by Copolymer Incorporation: Enhancement of Gelation Rate, Mechanical Property, Fluorescence, and Conductivity

Priyadarshi Chakraborty, Sujoy Das, Sanjoy Mondal, Partha Bairi, Arun K. Nandi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the quest to engineer the nanofibrillar morphology of folic acid (F) gel, poly(4-vinylpyridine-co-styrene) (PVPS) is judiciously integrated as a polymeric additive because of its potential to form H-bonding and π-stacking with F. The hybrid gels are designated as F-PVPSx gels, where x denotes the amount of PVPS (mg) added in 2 mL of F gel (0.3%, w/v). The assistance of PVPS in the gelation of F is manifested from the drop in critical gelation concentration and increased fiber diameter and branching of F-PVPSx gels compared to that of F gel. PVPS induces a magnificent improvement of mechanical properties: a 500 times increase of storage modulus and ∼62 times increase of yield stress in the F-PVPS5 gel compared to the F gel. The complex modulus also increases with increasing PVPS concentration with a maximum in F-PVPS5 gel. Creep recovery experiments suggest PVPS induced elasticity in the otherwise viscous F gel. The fluorescence intensity of F-PVPSx gels at first increases with increasing PVPS concentration showing maxima at F-PVPS5 gel and then slowly decreases. Gelation is monitored by time-dependent fluorescence spectroscopy, and it is observed that F and F-PVPSx gels exhibit perfectly opposite trend; the former shows a sigmoidal decrease in fluorescence intensity during gelation, but the latter shows a sigmoidal increase. The gelation rate constants calculated from Avrami treatment on the time-dependent fluorescence data manifest that PVPS effectively enhances the gelation rate showing a maximum for F-PVPS5 gel. The hybrid gel exhibit 5 orders increase of dc conductivity than that of F-gel showing semiconducting nature in the current-voltage plot. The Nyquist plot in impedance spectra of F-PVPS5 xerogel exhibit a depressed semicircle with a spike at lower frequency region, and the equivalent circuit represents a complex combination of resistance-capacitance circuits attributed to the hybrid morphology of the gel fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1880
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - 23 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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