Scientists have developed porous new sponge-like materials

Release date: 2009-05-21

Research groups in Australia and South Korea have recently developed a porous new sponge-like material that is very similar in mechanical properties to biological soft tissue and contains a robust network of DNA strands and carbon nanotubes.

For modern implants and the growth of artificial tissues and organs, it is important to produce materials that closely resemble natural characteristics. However, tissues in the human body have various traits which are difficult to reproduce in synthetic materials because human tissues are both soft and tough. The new technology developed this time uses DNA strands as a matrix that completely encloses scaffolded carbon nanotubes and forms a colloid. This gel can be drawn into very fine threads when infused into a special container and woven into fibers. The dried fiber has a porous sponge-like structure and contains a network of 50 nm wide nanofibers interwoven. Soaking these fibers in a calcium chloride solution can further crosslink the DNA and cause the fibers to become denser and more firmly attached.

These porous fibers are similar to the collagen fiber network of the biological extracellular matrix. They can be knotted, woven or spun into a textile-like structure. As a result, these materials can be as elastic as the softest natural tissue, while also achieving great strength from a strong DNA strand. Another advantage of the new material is its electrical conductivity, which can be used as an electrode for mechanical transmissions, energy storage and sensors. Researchers have produced a hydrogen peroxide sensor that catalyzes the oxidation of hydrogen peroxide to produce a measurable current. Hydrogen peroxide plays an important role in normal heart function and certain heart diseases. A sensor that is similar in elasticity to the heart muscle can help to study these relationships. Shanghai Medical Device Industry Association

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