Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Smart "mud" Clay-based hydrogel

Sigh. One of the materials I have been obsessing over lately is Clay-based hydrogel. Its a gel, made of water that self heals. Apparently it is mostly water 0.4% clay and the rest is a molecular binder.

There is nothing on the internet regarding recipes! ARGH.

The clay they state is "Clay NS" NS means Nanosheets. Like that helps me even more... Nanosheets are just basically thin sheets of a material, so in our case it would be a thin sheet of clay made using nano particles.

Since this material self-heals it has potential to be used in the automobile industry, heck any vehicle....

It made me think of this verse...

Genesis 2:7, which says:

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Here is a little more information on the recipe:

According to a report in New Scientist, Takuzo Aida and his team at the University of Tokyo, Japan, mixed a few grams of clay with 100 grams of water in the presence of tiny quantities of a thickening agent called sodium polyacrylate* and an organic “molecular glue”. The thickening agent teases apart the clay into thin sheets, increasing its surface area and allowing the glue to get a better hold on it.

This means that, while the mixture is almost 98 per cent water, it forms a transparent and elastic hydrogel with sufficient mechanical strength to make a 3.5 centimetre-wide self-standing bridge.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/article87612.ece

*Sodium Polyacrylate can be found in disposable diapers.

As for the Organic Molecular binder, I found artists' Rabbit Skin Glue to be a probable specimen,

This is a high grade glue made in Italy of pure rabbit collagen. It is a granular glue that is easy to dissolve in water. It is ideal for use in gesso and as a medium for distemper painting.

Stronger than most modern adhesives, rabbit skin glue is used in traditional woodworking, gilding and painting techniques. First soaked in water and then heated in a water bath, it is applied warm, and gels when left to cool. In woodworking, rabbit skin glue's solubility in water makes it reversible, while its "open time" allows for repositioning. In painting and gilding techniques, it is used both as a size for canvas and boards, in recipes to make traditional gesso, and in distemper paints.

Animal glues vary in strength, but rabbit skin glue usually offers the highest strength, viscosity and elasticity. True rabbit skin glue tends to gel at lower temperatures, making it easier to use in gesso applications. Otherwise, glue made from bovine collagen are comparable.

Source: http://www.artistsupplysource.com/product.php?productid=54843

Especially the "gels when left to cool" part.

And the clay Above Top Secret
forum suggested Kaolin, a mineral Clay, that a Botanicals shop supplies. Here it is on Amazon in Baby Powder form.


Kaolin Clay is also popular in homemade cosmetics products... you can find it on etsy.

You can buy disposable diapers in a super market.
And buy the rabbit skin glue in a art supply store.

Rabbit Skin Glue is about $7.47 for a quarter of a pound at Artist Supply Store.

100g of Kaolin Clay for $9.00

16.47 + baby diaper cost= ~$30

With the world’s focus on reducing our dependency on fossil-fuel energy, the scientific community can investigate new plastic materials that are much less dependent on petroleum than are conventional plastics. Given increasing environmental issues, the idea of replacing plastics with water-based gels, so-called hydrogels, seems reasonable. Here we report that water and clay (2–3 per cent by mass), when mixed with a very small proportion (<0.4 per cent by mass) of organic components, quickly form a transparent hydrogel. This material can be moulded into shape-persistent, free-standing objects owing to its exceptionally great mechanical strength, and rapidly and completely self-heals when damaged. Furthermore, it preserves biologically active proteins for catalysis. So far1 no other hydrogels, including conventional ones formed by mixing polymeric cations and anions2, 3 or polysaccharides and borax4, have been reported to possess all these features. Notably, this material is formed only by non-covalent forces resulting from the specific design of a telechelic dendritic macromolecule with multiple adhesive termini for binding to clay.

Source: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7279/full/nature08693.html


  1. This sounds cool! I want some to play with! ; )

  2. I'm hoping to figure out the recipe soon. :)

  3. I'd like the recipe also. I have a project to make a water reservoir as a heat sink for a greenhouse, and hydrogels don't leak.

  4. @Jkirk: I'll definitely post the recipe when I figure it out!