Insight on the Intracellular Supramolecular Assembly of DTTO: A Peculiar Example of Cell-Driven Polymorphism

Adv Mater. 2023 Oct;35(42):e2302756. doi: 10.1002/adma.202302756. Epub 2023 Aug 17.


The assembly of supramolecular structures within living systems is an innovative approach for introducing artificial constructs and developing biomaterials capable of influencing and/or regulating the biological responses of living organisms. By integrating chemical, photophysical, morphological, and structural characterizations, it is shown that the cell-driven assembly of 2,6-diphenyl-3,5-dimethyl-dithieno[3,2-b:2',3'-d]thiophene-4,4-dioxide (DTTO) molecules into fibers results in the formation of a "biologically assisted" polymorphic form, hence the term bio-polymorph. Indeed, X-ray diffraction reveals that cell-grown DTTO fibers present a unique molecular packing leading to specific morphological, optical, and electrical properties. Monitoring the process of fiber formation in cells with time-resolved photoluminescence, it is established that cellular machinery is necessary for fiber production and a non-classical nucleation mechanism for their growth is postulated. These biomaterials may have disruptive applications in the stimulation and sense of living cells, but more crucially, the study of their genesis and properties broadens the understanding of life beyond the native components of cells.

Keywords: biomaterials; electroactive fibers; polymorphs; supramolecular assembly; thiophene.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Biocompatible Materials