Peptides are the building blocks of living systems and they have tremendous potential as building blocks for new materials. The function of peptides is dictated by a chemical alphabet of 20 letters in specific sequence. The number of possible sequences is huge, so it is not possible to test them all, which has limited the discovery of new candidate peptides for specific applications. Now, Rein Ulijn, Director of the Nanoscience Initiative, with collaborators at the University of Strathclyde in the UK, has developed new tools to screen the peptide sequence space, and used these methods for discovery of functional peptides that form stable gels. These simplified biological gels have potential applications in food science, cosmetics and biomedicine. The paper will be published as the cover story of the January 2015 issue of Nature Chemistry. Read the advanced article online now.