Scientists have created new materials. These materials are very stretchable and extremely tough. The new materials fall under the broader category of ionogels. These are polymer networks that contain salts. These are liquid at room temperature. These salts are known as ionic liquids.
Scientists have made ionogels that are nearly 70% liquid. These have remarkable mechanical properties. They are tough which means that they can dissipate a lot of energy when you deform them. This makes them very difficult to break. They’re also easy to make and easy to process. You can also 3D print them.
Scientists started with monomers of polyacrylic acid and polyacrylamide, to make the new ionogels. They have copolymerized them in a solution of ionic liquid. They have also used ultraviolet light. Scientists took the ingredients for polyacrylic acid and polyacrylamide. They have placed them in an ionic liquid. Then they shone light on it to create a copolymer. This incorporates both monomers and the ionic liquid itself.
The ionogels created by scientists have self-healing and shape memory properties. One can stick two pieces of the ionogel together. When it is exposed to heat, it reforms a strong bond. One can deform the ionogel into a temporary new shape, by the same token. But it will return to its original shape when exposed to heat. The required amount of heat depends on how quickly you want the material to “heal” or return to its normal shape. The actions only take tens of seconds, when exposed to a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.