Mechanochromic force transducers for biosystems and synthetic hydrogels

Sensing forces at the level of single motor proteins and hydrogel cross-links

Mechanochemical transduction processes are omnipresent in nature and essential for organisms to adapt to mechanical stresses. Such processes can be mimicked in artificial materials that respond to mechanical forces in a constructive manner. A particularly active research domain is the study of mechanochemical effects in polymers. The mechanically induced dissociation of weak covalent or supramolecular bonds in motifs that have become known as mechanophores has emerged as an intriguing approach to create polymeric materials that display useful macroscopic responses to mechanical deformation. This project will study such mechanical processes in aqueous systems with the development of water soluble mechanochromic mechanophores covering a wide range of activation forces. These new motifs are expected to allow probing mechanical effects in biological systems, for example to improve the understanding of force generation and transduction in motor proteins, and to study the forces that act on the molecular level on synthetic polymer hydrogels.

Main investigator

Involved people