New fiber-re­in­forced hy­dro­gels are tougher and more durable

Chemical Industry Digest - - New Developments -

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.

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