New fiber-reinforced hydrogels are tougher and more durable
Hokkaido University researchers, led by Professor Jian Ping Gong, have focused on creating a reinforced material using hydrogels, a report from Chem Europe suggests.
Though such a substance has a potential as a structural biomaterial, up until now, no material reliable and strong enough for longterm use has been produced. This study was conducted as a part of the Cabinet Office’s Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT).
To address the problem, the team combined hydrogels containing high levels of water with glass fiber fabric to create bendable, yet tough materials, employing the same method used to produce reinforced plastics. The team found that a combination of polyampho- lyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they developed earlier, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10 m in diameter, produced a strong, tensile material. The procedure to make the material is simply to immerse the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerisation.
When used alone, the fiber-reinforced hydrogels developed by the team are 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, and 100 times tougher than hydrogels. Combining these materials enables a synergistic toughening.
“The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly,” says Dr. Jian Ping Gong, “The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility.