Engineers at MIT managed to create a new super glue material that is more than 90% water, basically making it a tough, bonding, water. This new hydrogel, which is transparent in color with a rubber-like texture, has been found capable of adhering to surfaces like glass, silicon, ceramics, aluminum, and titanium with a bond comparable to that between tendon and cartilage on bone (which is tough, very tough).
Engineered hydrogel being pulled away from a glass surface. The material shows a property called “tough wet adhesion” comparable to tendon and bone interface. The wavy edge instability at the interface is a hallmark of strongly adhered soft material on a rigid surface. (photo credit: Felice Frankel)
To demonstrate its adhesive properties and strength, the team applied a small amount of hydrogel between two plates of glass, from which they suspended a 50 pound (22.6 kilograms) weight. They also applied it to a piece of silicon wafer and struck it with a hammer, and found that while the silicon piece shattered, its pieces stuck in place.
To test the new hydrogel’s robustness, they used a standard peeling test; which means they measured the force required to peel the hydrogel from a surface. They found that the bond was as tough as 1000 joules per square meter (about the same strength as tendon and cartilage on bone).
Why the new hydrogel super glue is useful
Being mostly water AND stronger in its bonding abilities when compared to other existing hydrogels, elastomers, tissue adhesives, and nanoparticle gels, this new material opens a large door of possibilities for many applications.
Its uses are currently being explored in robotics for instance, where the material can serve as synthetic tendon and cartilage, or in flexible joints. Small spheres of the hydrogel have already been used to connect short pipes to simulate robotic limbs, potentially giving future robots more degrees of freedom in movement.
Apart from robotics however, the hydrogel can also be useful in many other practical applications such as hydrogel coatings (protecting underwater surfaces of boats, submarines, or any other submerged structure), as well as tissue engineering, water treatment, and underwater glues.
The hydrogel is also biocompatible, which thanks to its durability, can be used for a lot of health-related applications like biomedical coatings for catheters and sensors implanted in the body.
Source: MIT News Office