A brand new squishy and flexible material resistant to high compression has been created by scientists affiliated with the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, and could have biomedical and bioelectronic purposes.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that glass-like hydrogels have been made,” says chemist Zehuan Huang, chemist and lead author of the study. “We’re not just writing something new into the textbooks, which is really exciting, but we’re opening a new chapter in the area of high-performance soft materials.”
At 80% water content, the hydrogel can regain its original shape despite being run over by a 1,200 kg car. How is that possible? Because of the non-water material’s molecular structure that uses crosslinks – when two molecules are joined with a chemical bond. When compressed, they act like ultra-hard glass. The first-ever soft material is proven to be useful in robotics, and in orthopedics since it would improve the flexibility of cartilage replacements.