Revolutionary gel could aid in how human bodies heal and age.
JAPAN –(CNN) —Researchers have developed a new gel they say is as durable as metal, has the flexibility of jello, and could revolutionize how our bodies heal and age.
It may look like a mesh bandage, but this material engineered by scientists in Japan is said to be five times stronger than carbon steel.
The tough, bendable fabric combines hydrogels — such as those found in contact lenses or jello, with glass fibers.
This particular combination maximizes its resilience, making the material 100 times tougher than hydrogels and 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, based on the amount of energy needed to destroy it.
That’s according to the team of Hokkaido University scientists who have spent the past three years working on the composite material.
“It’s the strongest soft material ever obtained by human beings,” Professor Jian Ping Gong, who leads the team, tells CNN.
Gong believes the fiber-reinforced hydrogel could be used to create biomaterials, such as artificial organs and prostheses, able to endure everyday wear-and-tear.
“It might be used as a biological substitute like artificial cartilage, or artificial ligament, or various kinds of artificial organs,” she says.
Other uses could include sports clothing, helmets or bulletproof vests.
“I think it could have very good performance against a bullet,” says Gong
“This gel itself looks very soft and weak but it can create a huge amount of energies.”
While Gong’s team is still perfecting the technology, they are already working on collaborations with companies in the field of artificial cartilage.
“If our material can … make people live in better ways, I think we will be very, very happy.”