Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers add chemical thickeners and either heat or cool the fluids to make them more viscous or elastic, is expensive and energy demanding. Take shampoo, for example. Without gelation, the contents of the shampoo bottle would be thin and watery. Instead of squirting a gooey dollop into the palm of your hand, the shampoo would rush between your fingers and escape down the drain before you could slather it on your head.