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TECH SPACE
New 'tougher-than-metal' fiber-reinforced hydrogels
by Staff Writers
Sapporo, Japan (SPX) Feb 28, 2017


The newly developed fiber-reinforced hydrogel consists of polyampholyte (PA) gels and glass fiber fabric. The team theorizes that toughness is increased by dynamic ionic bonds between the fiber and hydrogels, and within the hydrogels. Image courtesy Hokkaido University.

Efforts are currently underway around the world to create materials that are friendly to both society and the environment. Among them are those that comprise different materials, which exhibit the merits of each component.

Hokkaido University researchers, led by Professor Jian Ping Gong, have focused on creating a reinforced material using hydrogels. Though such a substance has potential as a structural biomaterial, up until now no material reliable and strong enough for long-term 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 polyampholyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they developed earlier, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10um in diameter produced a strong, tensile material. The procedure to make the material is simply to immerse the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerization.

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 - in terms of the energy required to destroy them. Combining these materials enables a synergistic toughening.

The team theorizes that toughness is increased by dynamic ionic bonds between the fiber and hydrogels, and within the hydrogels, as the fiber's toughness increases in relation to that of the hydrogels. Consequently, the newly developed hydrogels are 5 times tougher compared to carbon steel.

"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.

For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions." The principles to create the toughness of the present study can also be applied to other soft components, such as rubber.

Research Report

TECH SPACE
Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential
Chicago IL (SPX) Feb 24, 2017
Almost one year ago, borophene didn't even exist. Now, just months after a Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory team discovered the material, another team led by Mark Hersam is already making strides toward understanding its complicated chemistry and realizing its electronic potential. Created in December 2015, borophene is a two-dimensional, metallic sheet of boron, the ... read more

Related Links
Hokkaido University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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