A tailored gel

In the past, Zhao’s group developed methods for making mixtures primarily of water and a small amount of polymer into tough, stretchable hydrogels.They developed a method for bonding hydrogels to elastomers by first treating surfaces like silicone and rubber with benzophenone, a molecular solution that forms strong chemical bonds with the elastomer when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The following methods were used by the researchers to create a hydrogel laminate:two layers of hydrogel sandwiched between an elastomer layer.

After that, they put the laminate structure through a series of mechanical tests, and they found that even when stretched to multiple times its original length, the structure remained tightly bound without tearing or cracking.