Researchers at John Hopkins University have developed a ‘shapeshifting’ hydrogel whose flexible properties may be put to use in soft materials including soft robotics. The hydrogels are highly absorbent and mostly made of water. DNA sequences inserted into a hydrogel enable it to expand to 100 times its default volume. When patterns are embedded in the gel and hooked up to specific DNA triggers, the expansion can be initiated in a certain direction or can be used to cause the material to fold or bend. E&T’s coverage also explains how the hydrogel can be made to move along surfaces with curling “leg” segments.
Filed Under: Materials • advanced