USER STORY: characterization of (very) soft hydrogels


The Piuma Nanoindenter finds applications in a wide variety of disciplines in research and R&D. In the field of chemistry, the group of Prof. Itamar Willner from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel works on a very special research topic: tuneable DNA-based hydrogels. The group started working with the Piuma Nanoindenter in November 2015, and used Piuma data in two publications already, in NANOletters and Angewandte Chemie.

Dr. Jason Kahn, postdoctoral fellow at the Willner lab, works with the Piuma Nanoindenter to measure the Young’s Modulus of these extremely soft hydrogels: “The Piuma has aided us greatly in multiple ways as we explore new hydrogels. Firstly, it allows us to spatially probe our samples, which allows us to characterize both layered gel systems and gel gradients. Furthermore, as opposed to creating samples solely for bulk rheology testing, the Piuma maintains the hydrogel sample, providing more consistency in experimental setups by allowing the same samples used for stiffness characterization to be used for downstream testing”.


Lina Freage and Dr. Jason Kahn with the Piuma Nanoindenter in Israel.


The group uses the Piuma Nanoindenter for the characterization of different states of the DNA-based hydrogels, which exhibit Young’s Moduli of ~20 kPa down to the single Pascal range. This high force sensitivity exemplifies a unique capability of the Piuma Nanoindenter, enabling Prof. Willner’s group: “We are always looking for new ways of being less intrusive to the systems we create while still providing meaningful characterization results. The Piuma opens up new capabilities not only for characterization, but also for further understanding of our system’s mechanisms, thus aiding in our design process”.