Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Recipe For A Shake Gel: Chemists, Computer Scientists Use Special 'Immersive Environment' At NIST To Scale Up Molecules For People-sized Interactions

Date:
September 3, 2003
Source:
National Institute Of Standards And Technology
Summary:
If you want to understand how molecules interact, there's nothing quite like crawling around inside them, and perhaps moving an atom by hand to see what's happening behind it. Chemists and computer scientists are using a special facility at NIST to do just that. By standing in front of two floor-to-ceiling display screens and donning special eyewear they can immerse themselves in a 3D environment constructed using data from theoretical studies.

If you want to understand how molecules interact, there's nothing quite like crawling around inside them, and perhaps moving an atom by hand to see what's happening behind it.

Chemists and computer scientists are using a special facility at NIST to do just that. By standing in front of two floor-to-ceiling display screens and donning special eyewear they can immerse themselves in a 3D environment constructed using data from theoretical studies. The facility uses software developed by NIST to represent large, complex sets of data, enabling researchers to answer questions that might otherwise defy attempts at solution. The scientists are thus face to face with giant-sized molecules whose behavior can be seen and understood in minutes instead of the weeks required using traditional techniques.

NIST scientists and collaborators are using this capability to study "smart gels," which might someday be used to make exotic foods, cosmetics, medicines, sensors, and other technological gizmos. Smart gels are inexpensive materials that expand or contract in response to external stimuli. This property could be useful in applications such as an artificial pancreas that releases insulin inside the body in response to high sugar levels. But scientists need to understand how the molecules in these materials behave before they can easily create the best "recipes" for each product.

The NIST team is studying a subclass of these materials called "shake gels." Through some complex and as yet unknown process, these watery mixtures of clays and polymers firm up into gels when shaken, and then relax again to the liquid phase after some time has passed. A shake gel might be used, for example, in shock absorbers for cars. The material would generally be a liquid but would form a gel when the car drove over a pothole; the gel thickness would adjust automatically to the weight of the car and the size of the pothole. A more esoteric application might be the formation of gelled areas within a liquid where holograms could be created using a laser.

The 3-D visualization facility helped the scientists see that it is the polymer's oxygen atoms, instead of the hydrogen atoms as previously thought, that attach to the clay. The team has also made theoretical calculations that may help to explain why and how the components of the liquid mixture bind together into a semisolid form. Electrical charges affect the binding process, resulting in water binding to clay surfaces in a perpendicular arrangement, which is believed to help create the firmness of the gel. This work is described in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The work is sponsored by Kraft Foods and involves scientists from NIST, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Harvard University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute Of Standards And Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute Of Standards And Technology. "Recipe For A Shake Gel: Chemists, Computer Scientists Use Special 'Immersive Environment' At NIST To Scale Up Molecules For People-sized Interactions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030903075341.htm>.
National Institute Of Standards And Technology. (2003, September 3). Recipe For A Shake Gel: Chemists, Computer Scientists Use Special 'Immersive Environment' At NIST To Scale Up Molecules For People-sized Interactions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030903075341.htm
National Institute Of Standards And Technology. "Recipe For A Shake Gel: Chemists, Computer Scientists Use Special 'Immersive Environment' At NIST To Scale Up Molecules For People-sized Interactions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030903075341.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins