Water-swelled polymers that quickly change their properties when triggered by the right stimulus, have been created. A hydrogel is a 3D cagelike polymer that is relatively sluggish in responding to the application or removal of stress, light, or a change in acidity. Using a novel design based on artificial protein polymers, a collaboration of scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Delaware has now developed a hydrogel that can recover quickly after the removal of mechanical stress. The novel hydrogel contains two chemical building blocks: one that is highly charged and hydrophilic and another that is hydrophobic and has a special shape that causes the polymers to link and form a porous hydrogel at very low concentrations in solution. After the gels were shaken vigorously to break down their structure, they recovered 80% of their strength in a matter of seconds, even at 90°C. The...
Benjamin P. Stein; Rapid-response hydrogels. Physics Today 1 August 2002; 55 (8): 9. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4796828
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