Star-Polymer–DNA Gels Showing Highly Predictable and Tunable Mechanical Responses


Masashi Ohira, Takuya Katashima, Mitsuru Naito, Daisuke Aoki, Yusuke Yoshikawa, Hiroki Iwase, Shin-ichi Takata, Kanjiro Miyata, Ung-il Chung, Takamasa Sakai, Mitsuhiro Shibayama, Xiang Li

Dynamically crosslinked gels are appealing materials for applications that require time-dependent mechanical responses. DNA duplexes are ideal crosslinkers for building such gels because of their excellent sequence addressability and flexible tunability in bond energy. However, the mechanical responses of most DNA gels are complicated and unpredictable. Here, a DNA gel with a highly homogeneous gel network and well predictable mechanical behaviors is demonstrated by using a pair of star-polymer–DNA precursors with presimulated DNA sequences showing the two-state transition. The melting curve analysis of the DNA gels reveals the good correspondence between the thermodynamic potentials of the DNA crosslinkers and the presimulated values by DNA calculators. Stress-relaxation tests and dissociation kinetics measurements show that the macroscopic relaxation time of the DNA gels is approximately equal to the lifetime of the DNA crosslinkers over 4 orders of magnitude from 0.1–2000 s. Furthermore, a series of durability tests find the DNA gels are hysteresis-less and self-healable after the applications of repeated temperature and mechanical stimuli. These results demonstrate the great potential of star-polymer–DNA precursors for building gels with predictable and tunable viscoelastic properties, suitable for applications such as stress-response extracellular matrices, injectable solids, and soft robotics.




Advanced Materials :