discovery of a new superabsorbent material

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  • Published on 12/23/2022 at 2:48 p.m
    Updated 12/23/2022 at 2:48 p.m

    Lecture 2 min.

    American scientists have just developed a new material capable of absorbing three times more liquid than those currently in existence. An innovation that could be a game-changer for women with heavy periods, by making tampons and sanitary napkins much more efficient.

    Professor Srinivasa Raghavan from the University of Maryland, has just developed with his team a new material capable of absorbing three times more liquid than those currently available. An invention that could change the daily lives of millions of women.

    Porous materials or hydrogels?

    Currently, porous materials and hydrogels are the two materials capable of absorbing liquids. But each have their specificities:

    • Cloth and paper are porous materials, but they are not very absorbent.
    • Polymer hydrogels can absorb up to 1000 times their weight in water. But when dry, they become solid, brittle and crumble.

    How to reconcile the advantages of each? This is what researchers at the University of Maryland have succeeded in doing.

    A gelatin containing a polymer

    This material, which the researchers have developed in the form of a sheet, could therefore combine the advantages of the two current materials. “What we’ve done is combine the desired properties of a paper towel and a hydrogel” confirme the Pr Srinivasa Raghavan.

    It is made of a gelatin-like component and contains a polymer, which can absorb one ounce, or nearly 30ml, of liquid in one minute. For comparison, the materials we currently have are only able to absorb 55% of this amount of liquid, or slightly more than half. The scientists point out that their experiment worked with different types of liquids: syrup, blood and even liquids “a million times thicker than water

    Tampons, dressings… many possible applications

    For Professor Srinivasa Raghavan, co-author of this work, their “gel sheets could be a superior form of paper towels” somehow. Their gel sheets remained soft and flexible in ambient conditions for a year. Now the researchers want to strengthen the material and develop reusable sheets for the market.

    We can then suggest that it goes into the composition of women’s tampons or sanitary napkins, because a sheet of this material of the same size can absorb more than three times the amount of liquid, without dripping. A medical application can also be imagined, helping to stop serious bleeding, instead of current dressings.

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