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!
In borophene, boundaries are no barrier
17.07.2018 | Rice University
Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters
13.07.2018 | Brown University
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering