Transparent Elastic Polymer

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A new type of polymer material that is colorless and elastic like a rubber sheet has been developed by Kawamura Institute of Chemical Research, a research foundation in Chiba. The new material uses an acrylamide type polymer. It has been the subject of enduring research for applications requiring flexibility such as artificial cartilage, because it has the capacity to change volume in response to temperature and acidity. But the polymer alone is so delicate that it is sensitive to light finger pressure.

This problem was solved by mixing the polymer with an inorganic substance widely used as an additive in clays. The additive causes the polymer molecules to create a fibrous structure that boosts both elasticity and strength. By adjusting the ratio of ingredients, the compound can be made very elastic or very strong. The new polymer material has many promising applications ranging from artificial cartilage and contact lenses to sound and vibration proofing materials and even toys. The institute plans to conduct applications research in cooperation with producers of medical materials and chemicals, hoping to have commercial products ready in two to three years.

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(Source: Science & Technology in Japan).
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