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Hydrogels

— Health and Wellbeing

Tough, super-stretchy hydrogel could be used to replace cartilage

By - September 7, 2012 4 Pictures
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
— Science

3-D printing on the micrometer scale

By - September 2, 2012 2 Pictures
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
— Robotics

Tiny robots could be the micro-builders of the future

By - August 13, 2012 1 Picture
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
— Science

Bioengineers develop smart, self-healing hydrogel

By - March 7, 2012 2 Pictures
Velcro is pretty handy stuff, but imagine if there was a soft, stretchy material with the same qualities. Well, now there is. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego have created a self-healing hydrogel that binds together in seconds, essentially copying the Velcro process at a molecular level. The new material could potentially find use in medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Hydrogel could grow new heart tissue, without the need for surgery

By - February 28, 2012 2 Pictures
Universities and scientific organizations all over the world are currently looking into ways of growing functioning heart cells on the heart, to replace the tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. As things currently stand, the body replaces that tissue with non-beating scar tissue, leaving the heart permanently weakened. Most of the experimental techniques for generating new tissue involve introducing some sort of micro-scaffolding to the affected area, providing a framework for new cells to grow on. That scaffolding has consisted of materials such as carbon nanofibers and gold nanowires, which would have to be surgically applied to the heart, sort of like a Band-Aid. Now, however, researchers from the University of California, San Diego are reporting success in animal trials, using an injectable hydrogel. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Hydrogel helps grow new scar-free skin over third degree burns

By - December 16, 2011 2 Pictures
Third-degree burns typically require very complex treatment, and leave nasty scars once they've healed. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, however, are reporting success at treating such burns on lab mice, using a new type of hydrogel that grows new skin (as opposed to scar tissue) over burn sites. The gel contains no drugs or biological components - it's made mainly from water and dissolved dextran, which is a sugar-like polymer. Read More
— Science

Hydrogel used to create precise new biochemical sensor

By - February 10, 2011 1 Picture
Scientists have used gelatinous hydrogel to create an inexpensive new type of biochemical sensor that is highly sensitive, sturdy, long-lasting, and has few moving parts. The gel expands or contracts according to the acidity of its environment, a quality that allows the sensor to measure changes in pH down to one one-thousandth on the pH scale. This amount of accuracy, along with its robustness, could make it ideal for chemical and biological applications such as environmental monitoring in waterways and glucose monitoring in blood. Read More

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