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While making smart glue, a team of engineers discovered a handy byproduct: hydrogen peroxide. In microgel form, it reduces bacteria and virus ability to infect by at least 99 percent.
Hao Meng's doctoral project focused on biocompatibility testing and pulling a sticky amino acid out of mussels. Glue-like catechol shows promise for smart adhesives—a small jolt of electricity can turn the stickiness on and off—but that's not its only potential use.
Process - Meng - Chemical - Reaction - Peroxide
"In the process, Meng discovered the chemical reaction generated hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct of oxidation," says Bruce Lee, associate professor of biomedical engineering and Meng's Ph.D. advisor at Michigan Technological University. "She started thinking, what if we could use the hydrogen peroxide?"
The answer is yes, and the technology that makes this portable, healing disinfectant possible is the subject of a new paper published in Acta Biomaterialia. The work brought together an interdisciplinary team of engineers to explore not only the tech development but also the material's physical and biological properties.
Coauthors - Caryn - Heldt - James - Lorna
The coauthors include Caryn Heldt, James and Lorna Mack Chair in Bioengineering in chemical engineering, and Megan Frost, interim chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology as well as an associate professor of biomedical engineering and an affiliated associate professor of materials science and engineering.
After Meng first observed that her reactions created hydrogen peroxide, she started considering the best form to put the byproduct in. She wanted lots of surface area to power the chemical reaction and she wanted a way to reuse the material. So, the team made a microgel.
Gel - Jello - Lee - Polymer - Network
"The gel is just like jello," Lee says. "It's a polymer network with a lot of water in it. And just like jello, we start with a liquid and solidify it into a shape."
Microgels are like tiny bubbles of jello. To the naked eye, the dry form is a...
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