Scientists invent material capable of stretching 20 times without breaking
A team of Harvard University, led by Zhigang Suo Materials engineer, created a sophisticated hydrogel capable of stretching up to 20 times its original length without breaking. A surprising figure considering that natural rubber stretch only supports five or six times its own size.
The new material is made of a polyacrylamide polymer network with alginate, which absorbs a large amount of water to have a jelly-like appearance.
The toughest hydrogels currently used in the manufacture of contact lenses, but the researchers believe that this new material could even replace cartilage of muscles, or create tissues that support the cultivation of artificial organs.
While a typical hydrogel breaks by applying force 10 joules per square meter, contact lenses, invented in the ’60s, require about 200 joules per square meter, and gristle still more, for only if one breaks applies a force of 1,000 joules per square meter.
“In our material, the strength to break is around 10,000,” said Suo. Since the two polymers that make the solid part of the gel are recognized as highly biocompatible materials, “the material might be used to replace human cartilage,” he said.
So, looking for a material to withstand a weight, found one that also has the side-effect an amazing ability to stretch. Furthermore, the new material can be easily recovered after being stretched too much, because according Suo, if it loses its elasticity, simply reheat to 80° and immediately regain its firmness.
Link: Super-stretchy jelly can take a hit (Nature)Tags: Exotic materials, hydrogel, Materials, polymers