Viscolelastic Properties Controlled by pH of Telechelic Metal-Coordinating Hydrogels

Poster Session: 

B

Presenter: 

Seth A Cazzell

Authors: 

Seth A Cazzell and Niels Holten-Andersen

Author Affiliation: 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: 

Nature uses metal binding amino acids to engineer mechanical properties. An example of this engineering can be found in the mussel byssal thread. This acellular thread contains reversible intermolecular protein-metal bonds, which allows the mussel to robustly anchor to rocks, while withstanding the mechanically demanding intertidal environment. Inspired by this metal-binding material, we present a synthetic hydrogel designed to mimic this bonding behavior. Our study demonstrates that pH is the main driver for the hydrogel's viscoelastic properties, and that a specific metal concentration is not crucial to stable hydrogel formation. This gel has potential applications as an energy dissipating material, and furthers our understanding of the bio-inspired engineering techniques that are used to design viscoelastic soft materials.