No, it's not "flubber" — it's a hydrogel, and now scientists at The University of Akron are exploring new biomedical uses for this polymer-based product.
Agar/PAM DN hydrogels show extraordinary mechanical and free-shapeable properties: (a) bending; (b) knotting; (c) compression; (d) (stretching); (e) hexagon; (f) teddy bear gel under compression; and (g) teddy bear gel after force release.
Dr. Jie Zheng, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Dr. Robert Weiss, Hezzleton E. Simmons professor and chair of polymer engineering, are among the most recent to contribute to the growing research of hydrogels, the gelatinous substance that, because of its toughness and plasticity, has several biomedical applications, including cartilage repair, implants for minimally invasive surgery and drug delivery.
Simplifying production process
Since, as Zheng says, "all existing methods to prepare double-network hydrogels involve multiple-step processes, which are tedious and time-consuming," Zheng and his team developed a simple, efficient and one-pot method (in which reactions occur in one as opposed to several pots) to synthesize double-network hydrogels — that is, hydrogels composed of two networks of polymer chains, one rigid, the other ductile.
Zheng not only made the synthesis of these hydrogels more efficient — he also made the hydrogels tougher.
Most hydrogels are weak and brittle, "suffering from low mechanical strength, poor toughness, and/or limited extensibility and recoverability," Zheng says.
His hydrogels, however, "exhibit high mechanical properties, excellent recoverable properties, and a unique, free-shapeable property," he says, making them promising replacements for load-bearing soft tissues like cartilage, tendon, muscle and blood vessels.
Weiss also has synthesized a tougher brand of hydrogel, a "shape memory hydrogel," which can be bent and stretched and fixed into temporary shapes. When exposed to an external stimulus, such as temperature, light, moisture, or an electric field, shape memory polymers recover their original, permanent shape.
Weiss's shape memory hydrogels are thermally actuated, meaning they stretch and change shape when heated, and they retain this temporary shape when cooled.
Biocompatible, shape memory hydrogels have the potential to be used for minimally invasive surgery and drug delivery, Weiss says.
"Shape memory may be useful for deployment of hydrogels in biomedical applications using less invasive methods ... for example, one can implant a compact form of the device that would deploy into the usable shape after it is implanted," he says.
For example, a small form of the shape memory hydrogel may be inserted into the body, where, upon absorbing bodily fluids, it expands into the desired shape of the implant, thus filling a wound or replacing tissue.
The permeable hydrogels can also be loaded with drugs and placed into the body, where the sponge-like gel biodegrades and releases the drugs from its pores.
Weiss and co-author Jinkun Hao published their findings, "Mechanically Tough, Thermally Activated Shape Memory Hydrogels," on Jan. 7, 2013, in ACS Macro Letters.
Zheng's method has received provisional approval for a patent, and his paper, "A Robust, One-Pot Synthesis of Highly Mechanical and Recoverable Double-Network Hydrogels Using Thermo-Reversible Sol-Gel Polysaccharide,” co-authored by Zheng and his UA research colleagues, Qiang Chen, Lin Zhu, Chao Zhao and Qiuming Wang, was published June 14, 2013, online in Advanced Materials.
Story by Nicholas Nussen
Denise Henry | EurekAlert!
Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved
13.01.2017 | University of Manchester
CWRU directly measures how perovskite solar films efficiently convert light to power
12.01.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering