Materials Science

Brushing up on being soft and squishy

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Science  11 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6253, pp. 1179-1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6253.1179-d

Polymer gels can be thought of as a netlike structure of cross-linked linear polymer chains swollen with solvent. Because these materials are mostly liquid, they can be quite soft and squishy, but this means that solvent loss, which makes the gels sticky, also is a concern. Cai et al. fabricated very long poly(dimethylsiloxane) chains with a bottle-brush structure: long backbone macromolecules heavily decorated with short side chains (a bit like a hairy caterpillar), which prevent the long chains from entangling. When cross-linked, these chains formed soft gellike materials with a tunable elastic modulus that was dependent on the crosslink density.

Adv. Mater. 10.1002/adma.201502771 (2015).

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