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3-D Printing

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: When your gel looks like a scrunchie

by Manny I. Fox Morone
April 27, 2021


A close up view of a wrinkly reddish pink hydrogel
Credit: Lynn Stevens

Right before her eyes, Lynn Stevens’s hydrogel wrinkled into itself as it solidified on a glass slide. Stevens, a PhD candidate in Zachariah Page’s lab at the University of Texas at Austin, makes hydrogels like this one with an eye toward 3D printing and biomedical applications. While shining green light on the reactants that created the material—water, gel monomers, a photocatalyst, a photoinitiator, and a co-initiator—they reacted so quickly that they generated enough heat to evaporate the water inside the gel as it solidified. Because that water evaporated, the structure of the gel scrunched and buckled into itself to make up for the lost volume, leading to these wavy wrinkles.

A blob of a wrinkly red hydrogel on a glass slide.
Credit: Lynn Stevens

Submitted by Lynn Stevens. Follow @organic_synthesis on Instagram

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