Real jellyfish are invertebrates, but these jelly dupes have a polymer backbone meant to store data. Tieze van den Elsen, a master’s student at Radboud University, made them by accident as part of his research in Hans Elemans’ molecular nanotechnology group. The project he’s working on focuses on encoding data to polymers using chiral building blocks. Each enantiomer of the isocyanate monomer represents a digit—either zero or one. The researchers’ goal is to string them together in such a way that the final polymer would contain information in binary code. To purify the polymers, van den Elsen dissolves them in a small amount of chloroform and then pours the solution into methanol. Since the polymers are not soluble in methanol, they immediately precipitate—in this case, into tiny, yellow jellyfish-shaped blobs.
Credit: Hans Elemans and Tieze van den Elsen.
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