Scientists have identified a new technology to develop smart hydrogels. Using 3-D printing technology, researchers combined alginate and graphene oxide, thus developing a smart hydrogel. The product is stiffer and softer than conventional hydrogels, research has found.
This combination of alginate and graphene oxide has the ability to repel oil, therefore making it a potential antifouling agent. Graphene oxide as a nanomaterial is stronger than alginate, but weaker than graphene in its regular form. This property enhances alginate’s resistance to chemical reactions.
3-D Printing Technology to Develop Smart Hydrogel
Stereolithography, a 3-D printing technology uses ultraviolet laser along with a computer-controlled design system, links the polymers to form the product. As a result, sodium alginate and graphene sheets form a 3-D structure.
Ionic bonds link the polymers, thus providing stability to the hydrogel. However, certain chemical treatment are capable of breaking these bonds, therefore allowing the material to react external stimuli.
To goal was to improve the mechanical properties of the material. Thus, researchers combined alginate with different proportions of graphene oxide and 3-D printed the products. Studying fidelity patterns helped scientists understand chemical stability of the smart hydrogel.
The material becomes soft if it loses the ionic bonds in a chemical reaction, the researchers found. Restoring the ionic bonds helps the product regain its stiffness. The team now looks to streamline production and optimize various parameters.