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Re-Programming Hydrogel Properties using a Fuel-driven Reaction Cycle

revised on 21.12.2019 and posted on 23.12.2019 by Nishant Singh, Bruno Lainer, Georges Formon, Serena De Piccoli, Thomas Hermans
Nature uses catalysis as an indispensable tool to control assembly and reaction cycles in vital non-equilibrium supramolecular processes. For instance, enzymatic methionine oxidation regulates actin (dis)assembly, and catalytic guanosine triphosphate hydrolysis is found in tubulin (dis)assembly. Here we present a completely artificial reaction cycle which is driven by a chemical fuel that is catalytically obtained from a ‘pre-fuel’. The reaction cycle controls the disassembly and re-assembly of a hydrogel, where the rate of pre-fuel turnover dictates the morphology as well as the mechanical properties. By adding additional fresh aliquots of fuel and removing waste, the hydrogels can be re-programmed time after time. Overall, we show how catalysis can control fuel generation to control reaction / assembly kinetics and materials properties in life-like non-equilibrium systems.


Email Address of Submitting Author


Université de Strasbourg



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest

Version Notes

v2: Fig. 1d and S3 have updated data after the reviewer comments, Fig. 3 now includes cycle number 12. The supporting information now included the full MATLAB code used to perform fitting.