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Pitt research team demonstrates gels that can be moved, controlled by light


Contact: B. Rose Huber, rhuber@pitt.edu, 412-624-4356

PITTSBURGH  (August 1, 2013) ... Some animals-like the octopus and cuttlefish-transform their shape based on environment, fending off attackers or threats in the wild. For decades, researchers have worked toward mimicking similar biological responses in non-living organisms, as it would have significant implications in the medical arena. 

Now, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated such a biomimetic response using hydrogels-a material that constitutes most contact lenses and microfluidic or fluid-controlled technologies. Their study,  published in  Advanced Functional Materials , is the first to show that these gels can be both reconfigured and controlled by light, undergoing self-sustained motion-a uniquely biomimetic behavior.

"Imagine an apartment with a particular arrangement of rooms all in one location," said lead author  Anna Balazs , Pitt Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering. "Now, consider the possibility of being able to shine a particular configuration of lights on this structure and thereby completely changing not only the entire layout, but also the location of the apartment. This is what we've demonstrated with hydrogels."

Read the full news release at Pitt's Office of Media Relations.
Click here  to see Dr. Balazs give a web seminar about these reconfigurable gels.


Contact: B. Rose Huber