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Hydrogels

Holographic spots and a hologram illuminated from the center (Photo: Ali Yetisen)

A team of interdisciplinary researchers have created "smart" holograms that can monitor health conditions or diagnose diseases, by changing color in the presence of disease indicators in a person's breath or bodily fluids. When developed into a portable medical test, these responsive holograms could make testing for medical conditions and monitoring one's health very easy, the scientists claim.  Read More

Lead scientist Xinqiao Jia works with the gel

People suffering from joint problems such as osteoarthritis tend to take a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs, even though such medications affect their whole body, all of the time. Scientists at the University of Delaware, however, are developing what could be a more effective alternative. It's a hydrogel that can be injected into the joint, and it releases medication only in response to mechanical force – in other words, whenever the joint is used.  Read More

Copper ions injected into the hydrogel allow the degree of gel curvature to be dynamically...

Soft robotics is a quickly emerging field that takes a lot of inspiration from marine creatures like squids and starfish. A light-controlled hydrogel was recently developed that could be used for control of these new robotic devices, but now researchers at North Carolina State University are taking the development of soft robotic devices to a new level with electrically-charged hydrogels.  Read More

A collagen 'wall' (blue, at left) built up around an implanted material vs. more evenly-di...

No matter what sort of wondrous implantable medical devices are created, they’re not going to do anyone much good if the recipient's body simply rejects them. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a synthetic biomaterial that they claim is “exceptional” at keeping implanted materials from being attacked by the immune system.  Read More

Only a few bacteria are left over, after the hydrogel was used to destroy a solid bacteria...

Whether it’s in hospitals, restaurant kitchens or our homes, harmful bacteria such as E.coli are a constant concern. Making matters worse is the fact that such bacteria are increasingly developing a resistance to antibiotics. This has led to a number of research projects, which have utilized things such as blue light, cold plasma and ozone to kill germs. One of the latest non-antibiotic bacteria-slayers is a hydrogel developed by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore.  Read More

DNA hydrogel letters collapse, flow, and reform into their original shape

Every now and again, Cornell University Professor Dan Luo gets a surprise. His research team has discovered a new variety of hydrogel – like Jello, except made with DNA instead of gelatin. When full of water, it is a soft, elastic solid. But when the water is removed, the hydrogel collapses, losing its shape. The resulting material pours like a liquid, and conforms to the shape of its container. The most interesting part, however, is that the liquid hydrogel remembers its shape. Add water and you get back the original Jello-like shape. Terminator T-1000, anyone?  Read More

Printing blood vessels: the future? (Photo: Biomedical Nanotechnology Laboratory, Chen Res...

3D printing technologies have come a long way since their earliest incarnations as rapid product prototype makers. It's now shaping up as the next disruptive technology and in medical science, 3D printing has huge potential. The latest advance comes from University of California, San Diego Nanoengineering Professor Shaochen Chen, whose group has demonstrated the ability to print three-dimensional blood vessels in seconds. If the technique proves scalable, it could revolutionize regenerative medicine.  Read More

The hydrogel in its relaxed state (left), and stretched by a factor of 21

Scientists at Harvard University have created a hydrogel that’s tough, biocompatible, self-healing, and can be repeatedly stretched to 21 times its regular length without breaking – all of which are qualities that could make it an ideal replacement for damaged cartilage in humans. Being a hydrogel, it’s composed mostly of water, although it also contains calcium ions, and a mix of two common polymers. While each of those polymers are fairly weak on their own, the results are truly impressive when they’re combined.  Read More

Fluorescent 3D pattern 180 µm wide (Image: Vienna University of Technology)

Three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere these days. Some are small enough to fit in a briefcase and others are large enough to build print houses, but scientists at the Vienna University of Technology are going for the microscopic. Earlier this year, the university built a 3D printer that uses lasers to operate on a tiny small scale. Now they're refining the technique to enable precise placement a selected molecule in a three-dimensional material. This process, called “3D-photografting,” can potentially be used to create a “lab on a chip” or artificially grow living tissue.  Read More

Illustration of how the micron-scale swimming robot responds to light (Image: Alexander Al...

How small can a robot get? According to a team of researchers at Georgia Tech, really, really small. Described in the July 23 issue of the journal Soft Matter, the Georgia Tech team has been running complex computational models of swimming robots on the micron (0.001 mm or about 0.000039 inches) scale. At this microscopic level, water takes on very different properties from those of the human scale, but despite these challenges the team believes that such robots could have fascinating practical applications.  Read More

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