Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Chemical Physics


Through the use of variable disulfide crosslinkers, we have created polyacrylamide gels whose shape can be altered after polymerization. N,N'-bisacryloylcystamine is incorporated as a crosslinker, along with a smaller amount of a permanent crosslinker. After polymerization, the disulfide bonds are cleaved into thiols through reduction. By reoxidizing the thiols with the gel held in a new macroscopic shape, a new set of disulfide bonds is formed, and the gel is forced to adopt the new shape. Retension of the new shape improves with greater distortion from the original shape, as well as with increased concentration of variable disulfide bonds. A simple theoretical model has been developed to explain these data, although the enigmatic kinetics of relaxation remain unexplained.