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When nudged, DNA ‘goo’ goes mobile

A new “smart” material made of DNA responds with movement when stimulated, much like a living cell. Artificial muscles and self-propelled goo may be the stuff of Hollywood fiction, but for Omar Saleh and Deborah Fygenson, scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the reality of it isn’t that far away.

The pair has created a dynamic gel made of DNA that mechanically responds to stimuli in much the same way that cells do. The results of their research are published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a whole new kind of responsive gel, or what some might call a ‘smart’ material,” says Saleh, associate professor of materials, affiliated with UCSB’s Biomolecular Science and Engineering program.

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