About Jonathan C. Barnes's Work
The human musculature consists of tightly bundled fibers that are capable of changing their size, shape, and mechanical properties upon exposure to an external stimulant in water. This design is akin to that of a densely packed stimuli-responsive hydrogel, however, the current state-of-the-art for these types of artificial materials either consists of overly complex designs that lack scalability, or materials that respond slowly (i.e., hours) and demonstrate moderate changes in size (20–40%). My research group has developed a scalable, redox-active macromolecular platform that can be incorporated into bulk materials, which upon activation undergoes a 91% reduction in size and a 2.5-fold increase in elasticity. Our future research aims are dedicated to exploring this platform in new polymer combinations to generate more robust materials, while simultaneously investigating other applications, such as rewritable surface patterning and light-activated drug delivery.