Ultraviolet Patterned Calixarene-Derived Supramolecular Gels and Films with Spatially Resolved Mechanical and Fluorescent Properties

Supramolecular assemblies have in the past been considered mechanically weak and in most cases unable to withstand their own weight. Calixarene-derived networks can, however, provide robust supramolecular gels. Incorporating a photoreactive stilbene moiety, we show that the aggregation state of the material can be tuned by heating and UV exposure in order to control the mechanical as well as the fluorescent properties. Regulating the extent of heating to control the proportion of H-aggregates and J-aggregates and further cross-linking of H-aggregates by control over UV exposure allows for adjustable photopatterning of the fluorescence as well as the material stiffness in the range from ∼100 to 450 kPa. We expect this straightforward supramolecular system will be suitable for advanced prototyping in applications where modulus and shape are important design criteria.