Making light work of hydrogel formation

UK scientists have developed a new way to make hydrogels using light. The hydrogels could be used in a range of applications from cell culture to biosensors.

Graphical abstract: Dipeptide hydrogelation triggered via ultraviolet lightDave Adams, at the University of Liverpool, and colleagues made the hydrogels from dipeptide conjugates using UV light to trigger the gelation. Unlike previous light-activated gelations, the team used a photoacid generator (a molecule that is photolysed by light to produce an acid) to lower the pH of the gelator solution below the apparent pKa of the gelators, resulting in gelation.

The team showed that they could pattern the hydrogel using a photomask. The patterned channels of gels could be used in microfluidics, biosensors and synthetic biomaterials, the team suggest.

Read more about this research in Adams’ ChemComm communication, free to access for a limited period.

Also of interest:
Chem Soc Rev critical review: Supramolecular gels formed from multi-component low molecular weight species

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