Novel polymer may lead to artificial muscles soon

Washington, Feb 1 (IANS) Researchers from Northwestern University have developed a new hybrid polymer that can lead to artificial muscles and life sustaining materials for delivery of drugs, bio-molecules or other chemicals in the near future.

The hybrid polymer cleverly combines two types of known polymers – those formed with strong bonds and those formed with weak bonds.

The integrated polymer offers two distinct “compartments” with which chemists and materials scientists can work to provide useful features.

“Imagine a polymer with removable parts that can deliver something to the environment and then be chemically regenerated to function again. Or a polymer that can lift weights, contracting and expanding the way muscles do,” the researchers said.

“We have created a surprising new polymer with nano-sized compartments that can be removed and chemically regenerated multiple times,” said materials scientist Samuel I Stupp, senior author of the study forthcoming in the journal Science.

“This is a remarkable achievement in making polymers in a totally new way — simultaneously controlling both their chemistry and how their molecules come together,” explained Andy Lovinger, materials science programme director at the US National Science Foundation.

Further down the road, it could potentially lead to materials with unique properties — such as disassembling and reassembling themselves — which could have a broad range of applications, the authors added.

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