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September 12, 2006

New polymers created by adding DNA base pairs

Chemists at Virginia Tech are creating new polymers by adding DNA base pairs. Attributes include improved stretchable behavior and self-healing polymer films and coatings. "We are trying to integrate molecular biology with traditional macromolecular science in order to synthesize novel families of elastomers. The base pairs disassociate when heated and permit the polymer to easily flow in the melt state, making it easier to process with less energy," said Professor Timothy E. Long. "When the triblock copolymer cools, the pairs reconnect and provide desirable elasticity and molecular recognition possibilities."

They could make windshields that will smooth if a small crack is generated.

DNA nanotechnology and synthetic biology have been making big advances. Being able to extend those capabilities with tight integration with polymers shows high potential.

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