Hydrogels merge two bodily types of the identical seaweed materials for power, flexibility.
3D-printable gels with improved and extremely managed properties might be created by merging micro- and nano-sized networks of the identical supplies harnessed from seaweed, in line with new analysis from North Carolina State College. The findings may have functions in biomedical supplies — consider organic scaffolds for rising cells — and smooth robotics.
Described within the journal Nature Communications, the findings present that these water-based gels — referred to as homocomposite hydrogels — are each robust and versatile. They’re composed of alginates — chemical compounds present in seaweed and algae which are generally used as thickening brokers and in wound dressings.
Merging different-size scale networks of the identical alginate collectively eliminates the fragility that may typically happen when differing supplies are merged collectively in a hydrogel, says Orlin Velev, S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State and corresponding creator of the paper.
“Water-based supplies might be smooth and brittle,” he mentioned. “However these homocomposite supplies — smooth fibrillar alginate particles inside a medium of alginate — are actually two hydrogels in a single: one is a particle hydrogel and one is a molecular hydrogel. Merged collectively they produce a jelly-like materials that’s higher than the sum of its components, and whose properties might be tuned exactly for shaping by way of a 3D printer for on-demand manufacturing.”
“We’re reinforcing a hydrogel materials with the identical materials, which is exceptional as a result of it makes use of only one materials to enhance the general mechanical properties,” mentioned Lilian Hsiao, an assistant professor of chemical and molecular engineering at NC State and a co-author of the paper. “Alginates are utilized in wound dressings, so this materials doubtlessly could possibly be used as a strengthened 3D-printed bandage or as a patch for wound therapeutic or drug supply.”
“A lot of these supplies have the potential to be most helpful in medical merchandise, in meals merchandise as a thickening agent, or in smooth robotics,” mentioned Austin Williams, one of many paper’s first coauthors and a graduate scholar in Velev’s lab.
Future work will try to fine-tune this methodology of merging of homocomposite supplies to advance 3D printing for biomedical functions or biomedical injection supplies, Velev mentioned.
“This method might have makes use of with different varieties of gels, like these utilized in coatings or in client merchandise,” Hsiao mentioned.
Reference: “Printable homocomposite hydrogels with synergistically bolstered molecular-colloidal networks” by Austin Williams, Sangchul Roh, Alan Jacob, Lilian Hsiao, Orlin D. Velev and Simeon Stoyanov, 14 Could 2021, Nature Communications.
Former NC State Ph.D. scholar Sangchul Roh is the paper’s different first coauthor. Coauthor Simeon Stoyanov from Wageningen College participated within the conception of the brand new materials.
The analysis is funded by the Nationwide Science Basis underneath grants CMMI-1825476, CBET-1804462 and ECCS-2025064.