Macfarlane Research Group at MIT
Position: Undergraduate Researcher (UROP)
September 2018 — December 2018
This project investigated the fabrication of a polymer gel in which DNA programmable atom equivalents (PAEs), composites similar to nanocomposite tectons (NCTs), can be embedded. Current procedures embed DNA-assembled superlattices in silica. Although this improves the mechanical stability and solution processability of the superlattices, it renders them immobile, as they are encapsulated in a solid. Embedding in a polymer gel, which is a viscoelastic material, allows for the study of these PAEs under applied stresses. First, monomers, initiators, and polymerization conditions that are compatible with each component of the DNA superlattice were identified. The goal was to maintain the crystalline order of the lattice during and after the polymerization process.