Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots'

Johns Hopkins engineering faculty members, from left, David Gracias, Thao (Vicky) Nguyen and Rebecca Schulman, teamed up with their students and used DNA sequences to trigger significant shape-changing in a hydrogel sample.
CREDIT
Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins engineering faculty members, from left, David Gracias, Thao (Vicky) Nguyen and Rebecca Schulman, teamed up with their students and used DNA sequences to trigger significant shape-changing in a hydrogel sample. CREDIT Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University

Abstract:
Biochemical engineers at the Johns Hopkins University have used sequences of DNA molecules to induce shape-changing in water-based gels, demonstrating a new tactic to produce "soft" robots and "smart" medical devices that do not rely on cumbersome wires, batteries or tethers.

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots'

Baltimore, MD | Posted on September 21st, 2017

The research advance, supervised by three faculty members in the university's Whiting School of Engineering, is detailed in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Science.

The team members reported that their process used specific DNA sequences called "hairpins" to cause a centimeter-size hydrogel sample to swell to 100 times its original volume. The reaction was then halted by a different DNA sequence, dubbed a "terminator hairpin."

This approach could make it possible to weave moving parts into soft materials. The researchers have suggested that their process could someday play a role in creating smart materials, metamorphic devices, complex programmed actuators and autonomous robots with potential marine and medical applications.

To control how shape-shifting occurs in different parts of the target hydrogel, the researchers took a cue from the computer industry. They employed a photo-patterning technique similar to the one used to make tiny but intricate microchips. Various biochemical patterns embedded in different regions of the gel were designed to respond to specific DNA instructions to cause bending, folding or other responses.

"DNA sequences can be thought of as an analog to computer code," said David H. Gracias, a professor in the university's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and one of two senior authors of the Science article. "Just as computer software can direct specific tasks, DNA sequences can cause a material to bend or expand in a certain way at a specific site."

He added that this is not an unusual occurrence in nature. "Shape changing is very important in biology," Gracias said. "Think about how a caterpillar turns into butterfly."

The study's other senior author, Rebecca Schulman, is an assistant professor in the same department. Her research group designs intelligent materials and devices using techniques from DNA nanotechnology. "We've been fascinated by how living cells can use chemical signals to decide how to grow or move and use chemical energy to power themselves," she said. "We wanted to build machines that could act in a similar way. Our fabrication technology makes it possible to design very complicated devices in a range of sizes."

Thao (Vicky) Nguyen, a Johns Hopkins expert in the mechanics of polymers and biomaterials, provided key contributions to the research and was a co-author of the paper. "Using computer simulations, we developed a design rule to transform the large swelling of the hydrogel into the desired shape-change response," she said. Nguyen is an associate professor and the Marlin U. Zimmerman Jr. Faculty Scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering."

To confirm their ability to control which hydrogel targets were activated, the team members used DNA sequence-responsive flower-shaped hydrogels. In each "flower," two sets of petals were fabricated, and each set was designed to respond only to one of two different DNA sequences. When exposed to both sequences, all of the petals folded in response. But when they were exposed to just one of the sequences, only the petals matched to that sequence folded.

The team also fabricated hydrogel crab-shaped devices in which the antennae, claws and legs each curled up in in response to their matching DNA sequence. The crab devices remained in their actuated state for at least 60 days. The crab shape was selected in honor of the popular seafood served in the university's home state of Maryland.

The new technology detailed in the Science paper is protected by a provisional patent obtained through the university's Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures office.

###

The lead authors of the paper were doctoral students Angelo Cangialosi and ChangKyu Yoon. The co-authors included graduate students Jiayu Liu, Qi Huang and Jingkai Guo. Funding for the project came from US Army Research Office award W911NF-15-1-0490 and US Department of Energy award 221874.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Phil Sneiderman

443-997-9907

Copyright © Johns Hopkins University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLE:

Related News Press

News and information

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Videos/Movies

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Columbia engineers invent breakthrough millimeter-wave circulator IC October 6th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Robotics

Acting like a muscle, nano-sized device lifts 165 times its own weight September 1st, 2017

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones August 17th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Adapt Obstacle-Detection Technology Used in Autonomous Cars for Portable and Wearable Systems: INSPEX to Combine Knowhow of Nine European Organizations to Create Portable and Wearable Spatial-Exploration Systems February 2nd, 2017

Hydrogels

Transparent gel-based robots can catch and release live fish: Made from hydrogel, robots may one day assist in surgical operations, evade underwater detection February 2nd, 2017

Researchers reduce expensive noble metals for fuel cell reactions August 22nd, 2016

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Possible Futures

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

'Find the Lady' in the quantum world: International team of researchers presents method for quantum-mechanical swapping of positions October 18th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Discoveries

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Announcements

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Military

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

On the road to fire-free, lithium-ion batteries made with asphalt October 12th, 2017

A dash of gold improves microlasers: The precious metal provides a 'nano' solution for improving disease detection, defense and cybersecurity applications October 9th, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Present Preclinical Data on ARO-AAT at The Liver Meeting(R) October 10th, 2017

Arrowhead to Present at Chardan Gene Therapy Conference October 3rd, 2017

'CRISPR-Gold' fixes Duchenne muscular dystrophy mutation in mice October 3rd, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project