Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry & Biochemistry



Committee Director

Guijun Wang

Committee Member

Alvin Holder

Committee Member

David Courson

Committee Member

Jingdong Mao

Committee Member

Michael Kong


Low molecular weight gelators (LMWGs) are attractive molecules that have been explored extensively due to their practical applications in many disciplines. These small molecules self-assemble forming solid-like gels via three-dimensional cross-linked networks with the solvent as the key component within the matrix. Carbohydrate-based LMWGs are small molecules that can form solid-like gels in water, organic solvents, and aqueous solutions. They have great potential to be utilized in different applications because carbohydrates are biocompatible and can be made from easily accessible and renewable resources. Designing gelators is still a challenge within the field, even though researchers have developed tools to predict gelation and other properties. Therefore, research on the structure and properties of different gelator templates remains valuable to the field.

The research in this dissertation comprises of three projects discussed in chapters 2-4. For the first project, we have studied several monosaccharide ester derivatives that can function as stimuli responsive gelators in organic solvents, water, and aqueous solutions. The results from project one demonstrated that these stimuli-responsive gelators have the potential to be utilized for dye removal and as controlled delivery carriers for various drug molecules. In the second project, we have studied a variety of glycolipid gelators containing ester, ether and amine functional groups. Their applications for enzyme immobilization as well as the encapsulation and release of model drugs have been studied. The third project examined a series of dimeric glycolipids and evaluated the influence of structure on the gelation properties, as well as their uses as soft materials for dye absorption studies.

Overall, several functionalized gelators and their resulting gels are stimuli-responsive to bases and lipases. Other representative gels were able to successfully encapsulate naproxen sodium as well as hydroxychloroquine sulfate and allow for their sustained release over time. The hydrogel from project two had the ability to encapsulate α-amylase and facilitated retention of its activity. This was illustrated from the recorded production of maltose by the gel throughout the experiment. In addition to that, the gels absorbed toluidine blue and rhodamine B from an aqueous solution demonstrating their potential usage in environmental remediation.


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