Life-like materials with chemical “soft-ware”: targeted hydrogel responses to a dynamic environment
Dr. Peter Korevaar, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
One of the most fascinating aspects of living matter is its ability to adapt to changes in the environment. Introducing these capabilities in synthetic matter holds great promise to create smart systems, e.g. in self-regulating materials or targeted medicine where dedicated action based on variations in the environment is critical.
In this talk I will discuss new fundamental approaches to develop chemical "life-like" systems that pick up signals from a complex environment and, depending on their dynamic characteristics, process these like a chemical "soft-ware program" into responsive behavior.
I will demonstrate strategies that enable non-equilibrium stimulus processing in adaptive hydrogel systems; polymer networks that translate environmental stimuli such as changes in pH or temperature into mechanical action at the microscale. Via unique combinations of chemical complexation, diffusion and osmosis, we enable these hydrogels to selectively respond to fast, or slow, stimuli - functionalities that are inaccessible to traditional hydrogels that continuously equilibrate to their environment. Secondly, I will show how combination of molecular self-assembly to physicochemical phenomena as reaction-diffusion, osmosis and feedback mechanisms opens new pathways to transfer and process stimuli along responsive hydrogel systems.
A journal club with Dr. Korevaar for graduate students and postdocs will take place on November 24 at 1:30 pm.