Advanced Materials, Vol.21, No.7, 743-756, 2009
Hydrogels for Soft Machines
Hydrogels have applications in surgery and drug delivery, but are never considered alongside polymers and composites as materials for mechanical design. This is because synthetic hydrogels are in general very weak. In contrast, many biological gel composites, such as cartilage, are quite strong, and function as tough, shock-absorbing structural solids. The recent development of strong hydrogels suggests that it may be possible to design new families of strong gels that would allow the design of soft biomimetic machines, which have not previously been possible.