Scientists Create Self-Healing, Shape-Shifting Hydrogel that Behaves Like Muscle and Skin

By: | December 14th, 2019

Image courtesy: ANU

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have created a new jelly-like material that has the strength and durability like our own skin, ligaments, and bone.

 Incredibly, this strong hydrogel is self-healing and able to change shape.

ANU scientists claim this new material could find applications in the next generation of soft robots. Moreover, this hydrogel could be scaled-up to produce more advanced medical implants or artificial muscles for next-generation robots that can swim.

Let’s know more about this special material:

Hydrogels are 3D polymer structures having a squishy material.  It has high water content and is used as scaffolding for bioengineering, self-irrigating wound dressings, contact lenses, diapers and prosthetic limbs.

Researchers introduced dynamic chemical bonds in this hydrogel that gave it features unlike any other materials previously reported.

Lead senior researcher Associate Professor Luke Connal from the ANU Research School of Chemistry said, “With the special chemistry we’ve engineered in the hydrogel, it can repair itself after it has been broken like human skin can,”

“Hydrogels are usually weak, but our material is so strong it could easily lift very heavy objects and can change its shape like human muscles do. This makes our hydrogel suitable for artificial muscles in what we call soft robotics.”

“Our hydrogel’s ability to self-heal, as well as its flexibility and strength, make it an ideal material for wearable technology and various other biomedical devices.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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