Researchers from Hokkaido University in Japan have gotten a one up on this thought, they’ve built a new hydrogel material that has been reinforced with fibres and according to them it is five times harder to break than carbon steel. Along with this use the material is also very easy to bend and stretch.
Creating a substance that could easily bear heavy loads and was also very resistant to fractures was something that the scientists set out to create. These traits were easily found in hydrogels while the extra rigidity and durability was provided through the glass fibre fabric.
Just imagine the uses that this material could have. One good use would be building artificial ligaments or tendons for people who have ruptured their original ones. It could also be alternatively used in the fashion industry for manufacturing a very elastic but tough material.
The resultant material that came about is around 100 times stronger than ordinary hydrogels, 25 times stronger than the normal glass fibre fabric and 5 times stronger than carbon steel. This measure of toughness is in terms of the energy required to break the materials.
Previously hydrogels had been used to build soft robots and as suitable materials for healing wounds but their lack of toughness is what limited their usefulness. With this new research all of this could change and new avenues have opened up in which this new composite material could be used easily.
The findings of the team were published in Advanced Functional Materials.