Tough gel stretches to 21 times its length, recoils, and heals itself - may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints
A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints.
"Conventional hydrogels are very weak and brittle - imagine a spoon breaking through jelly," explains lead author Jeong-Yun Sun, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). "But because they are water-based and biocompatible, people would like to use them for some very challenging applications like artificial cartilage or spinal disks. For a gel to work in those settings, it has to be able to stretch and expand under compression and tension without breaking."