Who would've known that if you mix a certain material found in both contact lenses and jellos, together with fiber glass fabric, you'd be able to create a material stronger than steel?
Well, these researchers from the Hokkaido University in Japan apparently did!
They've developed a durable, bendable fabric that has the strength of metal and the flexibility of jello. This composite material is made from a combination of polyampholyte (PA) gels and fiber glass fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10μm in diameter. “The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly,” says Dr. Jian Ping Gong from the Hokkaido University.
This hydrogel-fiberglass fabric is 100 times tougher than hydrogels and 25 times stronger than fiberglass fabric (with respect to the amount of energy used to tear it). And it might look like just a mesh bandage but it is actually even five times stronger than carbon steel!
"It's the strongest soft material ever obtained by human beings," Gong tells CNN.
And because of its strength and durability, Gong believed that the composite material could be used to revolutionize artificial organs and artificial tendons for joints. It can even be possibly used to make bulletproof vests, sports clothing, and helmets.
“The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions,” says Gong.
The inspiration for the material came from the Gong's exploration in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido in Japan. "Sometimes when I see a flower coming out from a very hard floor -- concrete crack -- I was wondering why the small flower, such a small lovely flower, has such a big large energy to come out," she says. "This gel itself looks very soft and weak but it can create a huge amount of energies."
"If our material can... make people live in better ways, I think we will be very, very happy."
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