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Cluster Formation

Updated: May 21, 2021

Inspired by #HamaYourResearch, explore network formation in globular protein hydrogels using Hama beads and grids.

We study cluster formation in biomaterials. Our beads are biological molecules called proteins and our grid is liquid water. Our proteins diffuse through water until they meet another protein, after which they stick together via chemical cross-linking. When the proteins are stuck together in a network that spans the 3-dimensions of the liquid, percolation occurs and a hydrogel forms.

In our research we explore:

(i) cluster formation and reaction rate governed viscoelasticity

(ii) network growth &

(iii) hierarchical biomechanics

We applied a set of simple random walk rules for moving beads around the 2D grid, with non-reversible sticky interactions. After a number of moves, the beads come together to form one large cluster.


You will need:

  • Hama beads

  • A grid

  • A dice


  1. Add a handful of beads to the grid, randomly positioned over the grid.

  2. Choose one bead.

  3. Roll the dice to determine the direction to move the bead.

  4. Each dice number has a direction on the grid:

  5. If you roll a 1 = move up 1 space

  6. 2 = move right 1 space

  7. 3 = move down 1 space

  8. 4 = move left 1 space

  9. If you roll a 5 or 6, ignore and roll again.

  10. Roll the dice to determine the movement of each bead

  11. If a bead moves next to another, they are stuck together and move together from now on

  12. Keep going until all of the beads have formed a large cluster

  13. Well done!

  14. Share a photo of your cluster on social media or with friends


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