New Method of Wormlike Motion Lets Gels Wiggle through Water

A special hydrogel substance has been developed that can be equipped to detect bacteria, carry cargo and deliver medicine. A researcher used a worm’s contracting and expanding motion to provide a way for gels to swim in water. He explains, “Using a hand-held laser, we were able to selectively and quickly shrink the hydrogel (a hydrophilic polymer gel comprised mostly of water) in desired areas. By inducing a shrinking/swelling cycle down the length of a hydrogel, we were able to successfully mimic peristaltic, or earthworm-inspired, locomotion in water.”(10.1002/app.40927)

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Author: Robert Slinn

Robert Slinn is ChemSpy's guest columnist. You can read his chemical news updates under the banner "Slinn Pickings". Robert is a Chartered Chemist (CChem), Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) and is a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. He has extensive experience in R&D: synthesis, analysis and analytical methods development; troubleshooting, consultancy, and teaching/training methods in industry and in academia. Robert is also 'Physical Methods' author for the Specialist Periodical Report series 'Organophosphorus Chemistry', published by Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK. Robert has worked alongside David on the Bedside Book of Chemistry and a major Thomson-Reuters report on the state of the pharmaceutical industry for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry