Nature has evolved several elegant strategies to organize inert building blocks into adaptive supramolecular structures. Favored among these is interfacial self-assembly, where the unique environment of liquid–liquid junctions provides structural, kinetic, thermodynamic, and chemical properties that are distinct from the bulk solution. Here, antithetical fluorous–water interfaces are exploited to guide the assembly of non-canonical fluorinated amino acids into crystalline mechanomorphogenic films. That is, the nanoscale order imparted by this strategy yields self-healing materials that can alter their macro-morphology depending on exogenous mechanical stimuli. Additionally, like natural biomolecules, organofluorine amino acid films respond to changes in environmental ionic strength, pH, and temperature to adopt varied secondary and tertiary states. Complementary biophysical and biochemical studies are used to develop a model of amino acid packing to rationalize this bioresponsive behavior. Finally, these films show selective permeability, capturing fluorous compounds while allowing the free diffusion of water. These unique capabilities are leveraged in an exemplary application of the technology to extract perfluoroalkyl substances from contaminated water samples rapidly. Continued exploration of these materials will advance the understanding of how interface-templated and fluorine-driven assembly phenomenon a can be co-utilized to design adaptive molecular networks and living matter.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- General Chemistry
- General Materials Science