Smart, Self-Healing Hydrogel Developed by UC San Diego Bioengineers
Smart, Self Healing Hydrogel Developed by UC San Diego Bioengineers
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Self-healing hydrogels are a specialized type of polymer hydrogel. A hydrogel is a macromolecular polymer gel constructed of a network of crosslinked polymer chains. Hydrogels are synthesized from hydrophilic monomers by either chain or step growth, along with a functional crosslinker to promote network formation. A net-like structure along with void imperfections enhance the hydrogel's ability to absorb large amounts of water via hydrogen bonding. As a result, hydrogels, self-healing alike, develop characteristic firm yet elastic mechanical properties. Self-healing refers to the spontaneous formation of new bonds when old bonds are broken within a material. The structure of the hydrogel along with electrostatic attraction forces drive new bond formation through reconstructive covalent dangling side chain or non-covalent hydrogen bonding. These flesh-like properties have motivated the research and development of self-healing hydrogels in fields such as reconstructive tissue engineering as scaffolding, as well as use in passive and preventive applications.
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