Pumping Iron: A Hydrogel Actuator with Mussel Tone

Using iron ions and chemistry found in the adhesive proteins of a certain mollusk, scientists have developed a hydrogel actuator that moves when its pH is raised. Hydrogels are soft networks of polymers with high water content, like jello. Because of their soft, gentle texture, they have the potential to interact safely with living tissues and have applications in a number of medical areas, including tissue engineering. The hydrogel moved on its own, bending like an inchworm where the ions had been deposited.(10.1002/adma.201306137)


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