Bioengineers Develop Self-Healing Hydrogel Material
Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego have developed a self-healing hydrogel material. The material creates a bond that resists repeated stretching. The hydrogel is made of polymer molecule chains. Until now researchers have not been able to develop hydrogels that can quickly fix themselves after being cut, but the UC San Diego researchers bypassed the challenge by using "dangling side chain" polymer molecules. The self-healing hydrogel has several applications, including plastics, industrial sealants, and medical sutures. The research team carried out computer simulations to design the hydrogel’s side chain molecules. The material's ability to self-heal mainly depends on molecule length; hydrogels with an accurate length of the side chain molecules have a higher self-healing property. The hydrogel shows strength and flexibility in an acidic condition, which makes it suitable as an adhesive for stomach perforations and for drug delivery in the treatment of ulcers.
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