Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart, Self-Healing Hydrogels Open Far-Reaching Possibilities in Medicine, Engineering

07.03.2012
University of California, San Diego bioengineers have developed a self-healing hydrogel that binds in seconds, as easily as Velcro, and forms a bond strong enough to withstand repeated stretching.

The material has numerous potential applications, including medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics, a team of UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering researchers reported March 5 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hydrogels are made of linked chains of polymer molecules that form a flexible, jello-like material similar to soft-tissues. Until now, researchers have been unable to develop hydrogels that can rapidly repair themselves when a cut was introduced, limiting their potential applications. The team, led by Shyni Varghese, overcame this challenge with the use of “dangling side chain” molecules that extend like fingers on a hand from the primary structure of the hydrogel network and enable them to grasp one another.

“Self-healing is one of the most fundamental properties of living tissues that allows them to sustain repeated damage,” says Varghese. “Being bioengineers, one question that repeatedly appeared before us was if one could mimic self-healing in synthetic, tissue-like materials such as hydrogels. The benefits of creating such an aqueous self-healing material would be far-reaching in medicine and engineering.”

To design the side chain molecules of the hydrogel that would enable rapid self-healing, Varghese and her collaborators performed computer simulations of the hydrogel network. The simulations revealed that the ability of the hydrogel to self-heal depended critically on the length of the side chain molecules, or fingers, and that hydrogels having an optimal length of side chain molecules exhibited the strongest self-healing. When two cylindrical pieces of gels featuring these optimized fingers were placed together in an acidic solution, they stuck together instantly. Varghese’s lab further found that by simply adjusting the solution’s pH levels up or down, the pieces weld (low pH) and separate (high pH) very easily. The process was successfully repeated numerous times without any reduction in the weld strength.

Ameya Phadke, a fourth year PhD student in Varghese’s lab said the hydrogel’s strength and flexibility in an acidic environment – similar to that of the stomach – makes it ideal as an adhesive to heal stomach perforations or for controlled drug delivery to ulcers.

Such healing material could also be useful in the field of energy conservation and recycling where self-healing materials could help reduce industrial and consumer waste, according to Varghese. Additionally, the rapidity of self-healing in response to acids makes the material a promising candidate to seal leakages from containers containing corrosive acids. To test this theory, her lab cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic container, “healed” it by sealing the hole with the hydrogel and demonstrated that it prevented any leakage of acid through the hole.

Moving forward, Varghese and her lab hope to test the material in its envisioned applications on a larger scale. The team also hopes to engineer other varieties of hydrogels that self-heal at different pH values, thereby extending the applications of such hydrogels beyond acidic conditions.

Catherine Hockmuth | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light
05.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>