Graphene oxide Smart’ Material developed by Brown University offers biomedical potential.
“Brown University researchers have shown a way to use graphene oxide (GO) to add some backbone to hydrogel materials made from alginate, a natural material derived from seaweed that’s currently used in a variety of biomedical applications. In a paper published in the journal Carbon, the researchers describe a 3-D printing method for making intricate and durable alginate-GO structures that are far stiffer and more fracture resistant that alginate alone.
“One limiting factor in the use of alginate hydrogels is that they’re very fragile—they tend to fall apart under mechanical load or in low salt solutions,” said Thomas Valentin, a PhD student in Brown’s School of Engineering who led the work. “What we showed is by including graphene oxide nanosheets, we can make these structures much more robust.”
The material is also capable of becoming stiffer or softer in response to different chemical treatments, meaning it could be used to make “smart” materials that are able to react to their surroundings in real time, the research shows. In addition, alginate-GO retains alginate’s ability to repel oils, giving the new material potential as a sturdy antifouling coating.