Mechanically cycling gelatin bilayers
There is a growing interest in making stimuli-responsive polymer systems, particularly ones that are bio-inspired/biomimetic and could perform mechanical work. Here, a biological device made from gelatin is described that can mechanically cycle back and forth in response to solution pH or ionic strength changes. The gelatin bilayer has one layer of Type A gelatin and the other of Type B gelatin, which have 2 different isoelectric points and therefore ionization states at a given solution pH. The bilayer mechanically cycles back and forth when one layer swells more than the other layer, which occurs because of solution pH or ionic strength change. Maximum bilayer bending occurs at pH 10, when the Type B gelatin layer swells significantly more than the Type A layer. The results show the ability to use the unique properties of different sources of gelatin to design a simple biological machine.