This is essentially Flubber — but real.
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Hydrogels are fascinating materials, able to stretch without breaking and absorb huge amounts of liquid.
These unique properties mean hydrogels are used in a diverse array of products, including wound dressings, diapers, and more. But hydrogels do have their limitations.
A new innovation from University of Cambridge researchers may have solved that problem, however. They dub their creation, “super jelly,” a hydrogel that can bounce back into its original shape even after being crushed.
The researchers describe super jelly in a new paper in the journal Nature Materials. In the paper, the researchers reveal how they tested super jelly’s physics-defying abilities — by running it over with a car.
Despite being 80 percent water, the hydrogel held its shape even after being squashed by the car.
“At 80 percent water content, you’d think it would burst apart like a water balloon, but it doesn’t: it stays intact and withstands huge compressive forces.”
Aside from collecting some very cool video footage, the researchers have also used super jelly to create a damage-proof pressure sensor to monitor movements like walking and jumping.
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Super jelly could also be useful in robotics and bioengineering, as soft, highly compressible materials could be used to make artificial muscles, skin, and cartilage.