||In the last 10 years, hydrogels have moved from the laboratory space to the engineering space, needing to be functionally designed as a component or main material used in device design, from robotics to biomedicine. Important single properties are studied in depth, such as toughness, biocompatibility, lubrication, etc. However, integrated knowledge of how the structure drives these properties in concert is still not well-studied enough to be predictive, which is necessary for the exponential growth into real marketable products. Because of this, I propose to bring a set of speakers who can provide specific connections between hydrogel composition and control of surface mechanics, or surface performance.
As with all materials, surfaces of hydrogels provide a boundary that is an excellent diagnostic of material behavior that can be compressed, stretched, or slid across in unique fashions. Thus this session is intended to focus on the surfaces of these materials, and how the behavior can elucidate, and be controlled by, the functional composition. While bulk properties or other considerations like biocompatibility do a have a role in the holistic assessment of these materials, the scope of this session focuses on the manifestation of surface mechanics. Further, the scope is not intended to include design of particular products from hydrogels, but rather fundamental research.
This exciting topic is becoming more common at mechanics conferences, and it provides an opportunity to move beyond phenomenological material behaviors of hydrogel surfaces into mechanistic and theory-rich work which is driving the field forward.