Scientists at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, have combined hydrogels containing high levels of water with glass fiber fabric to create a flexible, reinforced material that is five times tougher than carbon steel.
The researchers developed the durable, tensile material utilizing the same method used to produce reinforced plastics. They combined polyampholyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they previously developed, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber by immersing the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerization.
In combination, the materials undergo a synergistic toughening, making them significantly stronger than each is on its own. The fiber-reinforced hydrogels are 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric and 100 times tougher than hydrogels—in terms of the energy required to destroy them.
The material has multiple potential applications including uses in fashion and manufacturing, and for applications that require load-bearing tensions such as artificial ligaments and tendons. For more, visit www.global.hokudai.ac.jp.