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While getting cut or wounded can be painful, sometimes what's even more so, is ripping off the adhesive bandage placed atop to protect and heal. Now, thanks to the brilliant work of a graduate student from Penn State University, the 'ouch' may be a thing of the past.
Lingyan Kong, who worked in collaboration with the University's Professor of Food Science has created a bandage from edible starch that over time, degrades into glucose. As it does that, the human body safely absorbs it, leaving behind no trace of either the cut or the bandage.
In order to create the soluble adhesive, Mr. Kong began by looking for a suitable material that could be used to weave into fibers. Though tree-derived cellulose is the most popular, he was looking for something that is cheap and readily available and decided to experiment with starch, extracted from vegetables like potatoes, corn and tapioca.
The starch he used was not of course the kind that is available at the local grocery story, but a polymer made from amylose and amylopectin. As you probably know when starch is mixed with water it becomes a Non-Newtonian fluid - One that can act like a liquid or solid, depending on how it is handled.
Since that mixture is impossible to spin into a fiber, the researcher decided to experiment by adding a solvent - One that would help dissolve the starch completely without altering its molecular structure.
Then, using an electro spinning device with a high voltage charge, he stretched the starch solution into fibers and wove it into a bandage. Mr. Kong believes that the material can be used for many everyday items, ranging from napkins to toilet paper. The researchers are now in the process of applying for a patent for their revolutionary biodegradable fiber after which, they hope to find a manufacturer to help them bring the 'ouchless' bandage to market. We for one, cannot wait!
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk,popsci.com, phsy.org