Future electronic skin and bio-batteries could be etched onto surfaces with inkjet printers, conducting electricity while looking for all the world like spongy biological tissue. A new electrically conductive hydrogel, developed at Stanford University, can be printed or sprayed as a liquid and turned into a gel once it’s in place.
A flower petal, a heart and a caterpillar are all feats of self-engineering, morphing and deforming their soft tissues into a specific shape without the help of any scaffold or control framework. Their cells swell and stretch during the growth process, and the rest of the structure changes shape accordingly.
The ability to heal--to repair oneself repeatedly and thus sustain damage repeatedly--is one of biology’s greatest tricks, and one that humans have been trying to replicate in synthetic materials for years. Now, bioengineers at University of California, San Diego, have done so via a hydrogel that could be something of a game-changer in disciplines like medicine and materials science.
A new heat-sensitive gel and glue combo is a major step forward for cardiovascular surgery, enabling blood vessels to be reconnected without puncturing them with a needle and thread. It represents the biggest change to vascular suturing in 100 years, according to Stanford University Medical Center researchers.
The body is a resilient biological structure, but there's one thing medical science, an increasing number of Baby Boomers, and the majority of professional athletes will all tell you: Take care of your joints, because once you burn up the cartilage you started with, you're not getting any more. But a breakthrough by Northwestern University scientists will now allow adult joints to naturally grow new cartilage for the very first time.
The invention of plastics in the mid-1800s changed human civilization as profoundly as our earlier mastery of fire, bronze, and steel. Unfortunately, the environmental and health effects of plastic offer a significant downside to such a useful and affordable material. Now, scientists at the University of Tokyo, Japan, have developed a clay-based hydrogel that they hope will perform the same functions as plastic, but do so without endangering people or the planet.
Scientists have developed a gel that helps brains recover from traumatic injuries. It has the potential to treat head injuries suffered in combat, car accidents, falls, or gunshot wounds. Developed by Dr. Ning Zhang at Clemson University in South Carolina, the gel is injected in liquid form at the site of injury and stimulates the growth of stem cells there.
Pectin is probably most recognizable to home cooks as the ingredient that thickens jellies and jams and gives them that smooth, sticky texture. Pectin is an indigestible soluble fiber which, when combined with water, forms a colloidal system and gels. It has a wide range of uses. It can be found as a gelling, thickening or stabilizing additive in food, an ingredient in laxatives, a demulcent in throat lozenges, and vegetable glue for cigars.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.