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Japanese Scientists Create Flexible Fabric That's 5 Times Stronger Than Carbon Steel

Mar 20, 2017 04:26 AM EDT
Steel Production At Salzgitter AG
SALZGITTER, GERMANY - MARCH 07: Steel rolls are pictured at the Salzgitter AG steelworks on March 7, 2017 in Salzgitter, Germany. Salzgitter is among Europe's biggest steel producers and is scheduled to announce its financial results for 2016 on March 24.
(Photo : Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

An international team of scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan has developed a new kind of fiber-reinforced hydrogel that's tougher than hard metal by five folds.

According to a press release from Hokkaido University, the fiber-reinforced soft composite (FRSC), also called tough hydrogel, is more durable than hard metal but has the ability to twist, bend and stretch.

FRSC is made by combining hydrogels with glass fibers and high water levels. The researchers used dynamic ionic bonds of hydrogels and fibers, as well as electron swapping to make the material stronger.

The new material is said to be 25 times stronger than glass fiber., 100 times tougher than normal hydrogels, and five times stronger than carbon steel.

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Jian Ping Gong, one of the researchers and a professor at the university's Graduate School of Life Science, said the new tough hydrogel offers a lot of potential due to its flexibility and strength.

Science Alert notes that the method can be used in other materials as well. For instance, adding hydrogels to rubber can make the latter more durable while still maintaining its elasticity.

The creation of such material will pave way for a whole slate of improvements and innovations in the field of medicine. The flexible fabric can be used in creating artificial ligaments and tendons for medical purposes.

"The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly. The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility," Gong concluded.

The study, entitled "Energy-Dissipative Matrices Enable Synergistic Toughening in Fiber Reinforced Soft Composites" was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Researchers include Yiwan Huang, Daniel R. King, Tao Lin Sun, Takayuki Nonoyama, Takayuki Kurokawa, Tasuku Nakajima and Jian Ping Gong.

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