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Shuttle-like supramolecular nanostructures formed by self-assembly of a porphyrin via an oil/water system

Peipei Guo, Penglei Chen* and Minghua Liu*

Author Affiliations

Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Science, CAS Key Laboratory of Colloid, Interface and Chemical Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 2 Zhongguancun Beiyijie, Beijing, People's Republic of China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:529  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-529

Published: 23 September 2011


In this paper, in terms of the concentration of an aqueous solution of a surfactant, we investigate the self-assembly behavior of a porphyrin, 5, 10, 15, 20-tetra(4-pyridyl)-21H, 23H-porphine [H2TPyP], by using an oil/water system as the medium. We find that when a chloroform solution of H2TPyP is dropwise added into an aqueous solution of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide [CTAB] with a lower concentration, a large amount of irregular nanoarchitectures, together with a small amount of well-defined shuttle-like nanostructures, hollow nanospheres, and nanotubes, could be produced. While a moderate amount of shuttle-like nanostructures accompanied by a few irregular nanoarchitectures, solid nanospheres, and nanorods are produced when a CTAB aqueous solution in moderate concentration is employed, in contrast, a great quantity of shuttle-like nanostructures together with a negligible amount of solid nanospheres, nanofibers, and irregular nanostructures are manufactured when a high-concentration CTAB aqueous solution is involved. An explanation on the basis of the molecular geometry of H2TPyP and in terms of the intermolecular π-π interactions between H2TPyP units, and hydrophobic interactions between CTAB and H2TPyP has been proposed. The investigation gives deep insights into the self-assembly behavior of porphyrins in an oil/water system and provides important clues concerning the design of appropriate porphyrins when related subjects are addressed. Our investigation suggests that an oil/aqueous system might be an efficient medium for producing unique organic-based nanostructures.