By Jon Vegas
15 Mar 2019
Our New Material that grows just like muscle!
A group of Japanese researchers have discovered a way to encourage materials to grow stronger and bigger over time, just like muscles. This discovery could potentially allow engineers to develop healable and adaptable materials which would be used in many different circumstances.
When people lift weights or take part in body building exercises the stress put on the muscles results in rips / tears to the muscle fibre. However, the process known as hypotrophy is when these rip to take place this actually allows for the muscles to regrow stronger. If you think of nonliving materials such as rubber (rubber band or tyre) once a rip does occur the strength and durability of this item deteriorates rapidly.
Muscle tissue was the inspiration for a research group from A University in Japan. They designed a hydrogel that has two linked networks of polymers.
This hydrogel is stretched and submerged in a solution that contains monomers. The monomers are building materials for polymers similar to the role amino acids play to muscles. The stretching causes the material to tear, then the monomers in the solution help them to regrow and become stronger.
The threads will eventually become 1.5 stronger and 23 times stiffer than before. They will also display a bulkier physique, they will have grown to almost twice the original mass. This material can then be used in multiple circumstances such as for prosthetics and orthotics.
Keep Calm and waka waka...