Although the role of intermolecular aromatic π–π interactions in the self-assembly of di-l-phenylalanine (l-Phe-l-Phe, FF), a peptide that is known for hierarchical structure, is well established, the influence of intramolecular π–π interactions on the morphology of the self-assembled structure of FF has not been studied. Herein, the role of intramolecular aromatic π–π interactions is investigated for FF and analogous alanine (Ala)-containing dipeptides, namely, l-Phe-l-Ala (FA) and l-Ala-l-Phe (AF). The results reveal that these dipeptides not only form self-assemblies, but also exhibit remarkable differences in structural morphology. The morphological differences between FF and the analogues indicate the importance of intramolecular π–π interactions, and the structural difference between FA and AF demonstrates the crucial role of the nature of intramolecular side-chain interactions (aromatic–aliphatic or aliphatic–aromatic), in addition to intermolecular interactions, in deciding the final morphology of the self-assembled structure. The current results emphasise that intramolecular aromatic π–π interaction may not be essential to induce self-assembly in smaller peptides, and π (aromatic)–alkyl or alkyl–π (aromatic) interactions may be sufficient. This work also illustrates the versatility of aromatic and a combination of aromatic and aliphatic residues in dipeptides in the formation of structurally diverse self-assembled structures.
- noncovalent interactions
- pi interactions
- solvent casting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry