Cartilage-Like Hydrogel Draws Strength from Nanofibers

January
2018

Hydrogels aren’t typically known for their toughness, but a new biomimetic material that combines hydrogel with Kevlar nanofibers rivals human cartilage in strength.

In the past, researchers have attempted to shore up hydrogels with networks of tough ingredients, but the resulting materials always traded off one desirable property for another. Using multiple polymers as the backbone for hydrogels, for example, creates extremely stretchy materials that are not particularly strong.

In a new study, researchers from the Univ. of Michigan and Jiangnan Univ. in China managed to create a faux “cartilage” that stretches, compresses, stands up to strain, and still contains up to 90% water by weight.

They achieved this goal using para-aramid, popularly known as Kevlar. In dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), Kevlar forms nanofibers that absorb shock and look remarkably like the...

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