The toughness and self-healing properties of hydrogels have made them a popular research subject in recent years. However, making a hydrogel that can survive being compressed has proven a challenge.
But a bizarre new soft material can endure monumental pressure even though it is 80 percent water. The water containing hydrogel is supported by a polymer network to act like toughened glass under pressure.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed this gel which looks and feels like a squishy jelly. Formed using a unique network of polymers, this super jelly is capable of significant resistance to compressive forces.
“super jelly” can withstand pressure equivalent to an elephant standing on top of it
Researchers tested the hydrogel by running a car over it, but instead of bursting apart like a water balloon, the jelly reverted to its original shape.
Super jelly can have various applications
The high-water content of hydrogel makes it suitable for use in humans. The stretching and self-healing properties of this material can be utilized in robotics, advanced contact lenses, artificial tissues, and wound healing. By tweaking the underlying molecular structure, this material can even be further developed to adapt it for biomedical applications, such as cartilage replacements.