Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TECH SPACE
Smart, self-healing hydrogels open far-reaching possibilities in medicine, engineering
by Staff Writers
San Diego CA (SPX) Mar 08, 2012


UC San Diego bioengineers have developed smart, self-healing hydrogels with far-reaching applications including medial sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics. Credit: Joshua Knoff, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

University of California, San Diego bioengineers have developed a self-healing hydrogel that binds in seconds, as easily as Velcro, and forms a bond strong enough to withstand repeated stretching.

The material has numerous potential applications, including medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics, a team of UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering researchers reported March 5 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hydrogels are made of linked chains of polymer molecules that form a flexible, jello-like material similar to soft-tissues. Until now, researchers have been unable to develop hydrogels that can rapidly repair themselves when a cut was introduced, limiting their potential applications.

The team, led by Shyni Varghese, overcame this challenge with the use of "dangling side chain" molecules that extend like fingers on a hand from the primary structure of the hydrogel network and enable them to grasp one another.

"Self-healing is one of the most fundamental properties of living tissues that allows them to sustain repeated damage," says Varghese.

"Being bioengineers, one question that repeatedly appeared before us was if one could mimic self-healing in synthetic, tissue-like materials such as hydrogels. The benefits of creating such an aqueous self-healing material would be far-reaching in medicine and engineering."

To design the side chain molecules of the hydrogel that would enable rapid self-healing, Varghese and her collaborators performed computer simulations of the hydrogel network.

The simulations revealed that the ability of the hydrogel to self-heal depended critically on the length of the side chain molecules, or fingers, and that hydrogels having an optimal length of side chain molecules exhibited the strongest self-healing.

When two cylindrical pieces of gels featuring these optimized fingers were placed together in an acidic solution, they stuck together instantly. Varghese's lab further found that by simply adjusting the solution's pH levels up or down, the pieces weld (low pH) and separate (high pH) very easily. The process was successfully repeated numerous times without any reduction in the weld strength.

Ameya Phadke, a fourth year PhD student in Varghese's lab said the hydrogel's strength and flexibility in an acidic environment - similar to that of the stomach - makes it ideal as an adhesive to heal stomach perforations or for controlled drug delivery to ulcers.

Such healing material could also be useful in the field of energy conservation and recycling where self-healing materials could help reduce industrial and consumer waste, according to Varghese.

Additionally, the rapidity of self-healing in response to acids makes the material a promising candidate to seal leakages from containers containing corrosive acids. To test this theory, her lab cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic container, "healed" it by sealing the hole with the hydrogel and demonstrated that it prevented any leakage of acid through the hole.

Moving forward, Varghese and her lab hope to test the material in its envisioned applications on a larger scale. The team also hopes to engineer other varieties of hydrogels that self-heal at different pH values, thereby extending the applications of such hydrogels beyond acidic conditions.

.


Related Links
University of California - San Diego
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
Iowa State engineer discovers spider silk conducts heat as well as metals
Ames IA (SPX) Mar 07, 2012
Xinwei Wang had a hunch that spider webs were worth a much closer look. So he ordered eight spiders - Nephila clavipes, golden silk orbweavers - and put them to work eating crickets and spinning webs in the cages he set up in an Iowa State University greenhouse. Wang, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State, studies thermal conductivity, the ability of materials to c ... read more


TECH SPACE
Apollo 15: Follow the Tracks

Looking at the Man in the Moon

Lunar lander firing up for touchdown

China to launch moon-landing orbiter in 2013

TECH SPACE
NASA Mars Orbiter Catches Twister in Action

Working models for the gravitational field of Phobos

Community College Scholars Selected to Design Rovers

Slight Cleaning of Opportunity Mars Rover Solar Panels

TECH SPACE
Tile Makers Creating Orion Shield

Weird and wonderful gadgets wow world's top IT fair

O, Pioneers! (part 2): The Derelicts of Space

Workers Remove Apollo-era Engines from Crawler at VAB

TECH SPACE
China hopes to send Long March-5 rocket into space in 2014

Upgraded carrier rocket ready for China's first manned space docking

Long March 7 carrier rocket to lift off in five years

Logistics, recycling key to China's space station

TECH SPACE
Though Shuttle Retired, ISS Still Open For Business, Research Going Strong

New date set for Europe's resupply mission to ISS

A New Website Sharing ISS Benefits For Humanity

Harper Government renews commitment to ISS

TECH SPACE
Engineers Tuck NuSTAR in its Nose Cone

Lockheed Martin Selects Alaska's Kodiak Launch Complex To Support Future Athena Launches

The initial Ariane 5 for launch in 2012 completes its final assembly

Arianespace maintains its open dialog with the space insurance sector

TECH SPACE
Researchers say galaxy may swarm with 'nomad planets'

New model provides different take on planetary accretion

A Planetary Exo-splosion

Extending the Habitable Zone for Red Dwarf Stars

TECH SPACE
Smart, self-healing hydrogels open far-reaching possibilities in medicine, engineering

'SimCity' game rebuilt for age of climate change

Apple unveils new iPad, Apple TV box

Dr. Strangelove and How I Learned to Love Space Debris




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement