If you wear contact lenses you're already familiar with hydrogels—a jelly-like material made from polymers soaked with water. But a new type of hydrogel developed at Harvard University promises to be far more robust than your corrective lenses, stretching up to twenty times its original length without breaking.

In fact, the new hydrogel's creator, a materials engineer named Zhigang Suo, claims the material can't be torn apart using just your hands. And that's because it's actually a mixture of polyacrylamide and alginate, two different polymers that form unique chemical bonds that work together to reinforce the overall structure as it's being stretched. In reality tearing does occur at the molecular level, but the material's unique structure manages to keep it intact, facilitating slick demonstrations like the one above. There are more practical applications for the material, however, like making virtually indestructible contact lenses, extra durable replacement cartilage for human joints, or even a strong support system for growing artificial organs. But does it come in Lime? [Nature via Popular Science]


Share This Story

Get our newsletter