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GALCIT Colloquium

Friday, February 20, 2015
3:00pm to 4:00pm
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Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)
Hydrogels: tough water for new applications
Zhigang Suo, Allen E. and Marilyn M. Puckett Professor of Mechanics and Materials, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University,

Several recent discoveries show that hydrogels can achieve properties and applications well beyond previously imagined.  A hydrogel mixes a polymer network and water at molecular scalar. The polymer network makes the hydrogel a soft elastic solid, and water makes the hydrogel a fast ionic conductor.  Most existing hydrogels are fragile and dry out in open air.  We have recently made hydrogels as tough as rubber, and made hydrogels retain water in low-humidity environment. We have used hydrogels to mimic the function of axons, transmitting electrical signals over long distances, at high speeds.  We show that a high-speed ionic cable transmits signals with a diffusivity 16 orders of magnitude higher than the diffusivity of ions in water. We have made a fully transparent loudspeaker capable of playing music over entire audible range.  We have also made stretchable, transparent, large-area sheet of distributed sensors. This talk describes the mechanics and chemistry of these materials and devices.

For more information, please contact Esteban Hufstedler by email at [email protected].