Eliminating Entanglements: A New Strategy Towards Ultra-Soft Yet Dry Rubber
Ultra-soft elastomer fabricated by crosslinking bottlebrush polymers contains only crosslinks (red chains) and no entanglements. [Credit: Li-Heng Cai, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.]
Medical implants mimic the softness of human tissue by mixing liquids such oil with long silicone polymers to create a squishy, wet gel. While implants have improved dramatically over the years, there is still a chance of the liquid leaking, which can be painful and sometimes dangerous. Now, led by David Weitz, a team of polymer physicists and chemists has developed a way to create an ultra-soft dry silicone rubber. This new rubber features tunable softness to match a variety of biological tissues, opening new opportunities in biomedical research and engineering. The material is featured on the cover of the journal Advanced Materials*.
* Cai, L.-H., Kodger, T. E., Guerra, R. E., Pegoraro, A. F., Rubinstein, M. and Weitz, D. A. (2015), "Soft Poly(dimethylsiloxane) Elastomers from Architecture-Driven Entanglement Free Design," Advanced Materials. doi:10.1002/adma.201502771