Hydrogels have repeatedly demonstrated unique qualities, for example, as bandages for wounds or materials to create soft robots . But until now they had one serious drawback – the lack of firmness.
A group of scientists from the University of Hokkaido developed a set of hydrogel composites or “reinforced soft composites,” which are hydrogel permeated with special fibers. The resulting composite material proved to be 5 times stronger than high-carbon steel.
The structural basis of hydrogels is formed by hydrophilic polymer chains, consisting of 90% water. To make them flexible, flexible and at the same time very durable it became possible by adding tiny glass fibers as a result of the formation of a dynamic ionic bond.
The characteristics of the reinforced hydrogel look impressive. It is 100 times stronger than any conventional hydrogel, 25 times glass fiber and 5 times stronger than steel.