Mechanical characterisation of super soft hydrogels

Despite the ubiquitous use of soft aqueous hydrogels in biomedical applications, one of the major challenges is the ability to precisely control the mechanical properties of soft biomaterials to meet specific needs. However, the accurate and precise determination of soft materials’ low modulus (usually in kPa range) is problematic. Different methods provide values which vary by orders of magnitude, with most lacking the spatial resolution to identify modulus variations in a surface, and there are no reference materials which can be used to validate the methods and values obtained. The novel nanoindentation method can differentiate between hydrogels with elastic moduli on the order of single kiloPascals (kPa) using a soft contact protocol, to fill a measurement capability gap identified in literature.


Following a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Zhejiang University, Dr Xu now works as a research fellow at National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) and Bioengineering Science Research Group at the University of Southampton. 

Her research works aims to develop the latest hydrogel coatings for excellent tribological performance in total hip replacement by using advancing experimental and computational tools.