DNA hydrogel has a long memory


The gel can flow freely as a liquid until poured back into water, where it reforms its original shape

It might look like a pink gloopy liquid to begin with but when you pour Dan Lou's DNA hydrogel into water it spontaneously reforms into its original shape. Even the Cornell researchers aren't exactly sure why their new material does what it does, but the potential applications are causing excitement.

The hydrogels are made from incredibly long strands of DNA that tangle up, trapping water in its structure. The researchers think that once the hydrogels are taken out of water they collapse under their own weight. Returning water to the gels gives them extra buoyancy allowing them to spring back into shape. Lou's team has already shown that this can be used to switch off an electric current  adding water to cause the hydrogel to change its shape, breaking a circuit. Drug delivery is another obvious potential application but who knows where this goo will end up, and what it will spring into when it gets there (if it's wet).


Related Content

Super strong hydrogel

22 May 2014 Research

news image

A supramolecular hydrogel with magnificent tensile strength

Chemistry World podcast - March 2014

4 March 2014 Podcast | Monthly

news image

This month, synthetic DNA bases and chemistry using smartphones

Most Read

Antimicrobial resistance will kill 300 million by 2050 without action

16 December 2014 News and Analysis

news image

UK report says resistance will cost global economy $100 trillion

Cutting edge chemistry in 2014

10 December 2014 Research

news image

We take a look back at the year's most interesting chemical science stories

Most Commented

A bad business

19 December 2014 Critical Point

news image

Targets and assessments can boost productivity at universities – but only if they do not stifle creativity and alienate the...

Chemistry behind the ‘blue man’ unlocked

1 November 2012 Research

news image

Biochemical model suggests that silver ions, not nanoparticles, cause a rare skin complaint