Soft matter with intelligence
We are developing a range of responsive dynamic soft gel-based materials for advanced delivery systems, rheology modifiers, and soft robotics. Recent examples are our hydrogel objects which can show programmed independent responsive behavior and communication, and our development of our moldable responsive HIPE-gel objects and fibers.
In our 2017 Materials Horizons paper we show the fabrication of soft hydrogel alginate-based objects, namely fibres and beads, that have an individually programmed time delay in their response to a shared environmental stimulus. We utilize the enzyme urease to programme a self-regulated change in pH, which in turn activates the designed response of gel fibre disintegration or a change in gel beads colour. This design allows for independent response behaviour of a collection of bodies in a single closed system, as well as inter-material communication on shorter length scales. The incorporation of responsive time control directly into soft matter objects demonstrates an advance in the field of autonomous materials. You can read the paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C7MH00033B