New method improves production of hydrogels with self-healing properties

11/01/2013 - 00:00

Hydrogels are semi-solid materials formed by polymer chains that trap water molecules into three-dimensional gels. They are used in a variety of applications, including soft contact lenses, but the fragile nature of the materials means that their utility has remained limited. Yasuhiro Ishida, Takuzo Aida and colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science are challenging this limitation by developing strong hydrogels, or ‘aqua materials’, that could outperform even conventional plastics. As part of an international collaboration, the team has now improved the production of a robust, moldable hydrogel that heals itself rapidly after being sliced open1.