The focus of the symposium ranges from theoretical aspects to recent advances in synthesis, characterization and application of polymer networks and gels. The control of gel synthesis has led to new materials with various applications (e.g., scaffolds for tissue engineering, drug delivery systems). Intelligent gels responding to different physical, chemical and biological stimuli have been developed through controlling the molecular architecture and physical properties. Within this context, a broad range of subjects including self-assembling biopolymers, structure and dynamics, and molecular modeling will be discussed.
New applications of hydrogels such as soft robotics and cartilage tissue scaffolds require synthetic and/or biopolymer hydrogels with enhanced mechanical performance, which has stimulated an investigation into how hydrogels may be made tougher and more enduring. Moreover, the parallel development of these materials and suitable 3D/4D fabrication techniques has accelerated the advancement of many technologies including soft robotics, bionic implants, sensors and controlled release systems.
The understanding of how to marry these recent advances in materials (e.g. tough, self-healing hydrogels) with manufacturing (3D/4D printing of hydrogels) for the purpose of building smart hydrogel materials is incomplete. This symposium will bring together experts from diverse and multidisciplinary research areas with a strong interest in synthetic and/or biopolymer hydrogels. Together they will contribute to the improvement in mechanical performance of hydrogel materials, and to expand the capability of additive manufacturing techniques to include actuating and electronic elements. This symposium will cover the complete range of fundamental hydrogel research to application areas such as tissue engineering, bionics and soft robotics. The invited presentations will be given by leading researchers from academia, government laboratories, and industry.