Chemists and computer scientists have created people-sized "molecules" at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by using chemical data, NIST software, special eyewear, and floor-to-ceiling displays. Such a three-dimensional immersion allows researchers to understand molecular behavior in minutes instead of the weeks required using traditional techniques. The materials being studied are the inexpensive smart gels, which can expand or contract to external stimuli. Applications include an artificial pancreas that might release insulin inside the body in response to high sugar levels. But scientists must know more about the molecular behavior of the gels before they can be applied for specific products. To learn more, go to http://nist.gov.
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