University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Highly Resilient Synthetic Hydrogels with Tunable Mechanical Properties

Gregory N. Tew, Ph.D.
This technology, developed by a team of polymer scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, provides a versatile and simple method for producing highly resilient synthetic hydrogels with excellent mechanical properties comparable to the most efficient, naturally occurring elastic protein called resilin. The method involves the use of photo-initiated crosslinking reaction of hydrophilic and hydrophobic polymers having reactive end-groups in the presence of a tetra-functional thiol cross-linker. The resultant resilient hydrogels possess network elements of resilin, including a uniform network structure, low crosslink density, and an absence of secondary structures within the crosslinked primary chains. These hydrogels are capable of undergoing significant reversible deformation without energy loss (?97% resilience) at varying water content and show negligible hysteresis across a broad range of strains up to 300%. The swelling capacity, stiffness and fracture toughness of the hydrogels can be easily tuned by controlling the volume fractions of the hydrophilic and hydrophobic polymers to tailor the hydrogels to the specific needs of end-use applications. Current studies have focused on material elements common in extended wear contact lenses.


  • Novel and simple method of hydrogel synthesis with versatile and scalable synthetic chemistry platform
  • Homogeneous crosslinked polymer network with resilin-like, highly elastic properties
  • Robust mechanical properties
  • Easily tunable water content and mechanical properties such as stiffness and fracture toughness

  • Manufacture of contact lenses and other protective wear
  • Biomedical applications including wound dressing and drug delivery
Dr. Gregory N. Tew, Professor of Polymer Science and Engineering, is a highly recognized scientist and entrepreneur in the field of polymer and material sciences as well as their interfaces with other scientific disciplines, and he has received numerous awards for his scientific achievements. His research interests include supramolecular polymer science, directed self-assembly, bioinspired and biomimetic structures, self-organization, well-defined macromolecular architectures, metal-containing polymers, membrane biophysics, physical organic chemistry, sensors, hydrogels, anion exchange membranes, and alkaline fuel cells.
Available for Licensing or Sponsored Research
UMA 13-005
Patent pending
Ling Shen
Senior Licensing Officer
University of Massachusetts
Gregory Tew
Melissa Lackey
Jun Cui
Catherine Walker
Alfred Crosby