Hydrogels can be formed by the self-assembly of certain small molecules. Many of these hydrogelating molecules assemble under specific conditions into nanofibers. The entanglement of these fibers leads to the matrix of the gel. Preparing gels with reproducible properties requires careful control of the self-assembly. Here, we describe recent methods for controlling the assembly of a range of oligopeptide-based gelators, using triggers such as pH, salts, and in situ reduction. We focus on the different methods available to trigger gel formation, rather than attempting to describe all examples of each. The oligopeptide gelators have applications in areas including cell culturing, controlled release, catalysis and energy materials.
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Materials Today (2012) 15(11), 500-507