Polymer gel market is a type of gel characterized by a 3D cross-linked polymer structure that can undergo significant transformation instantly. When deformed, the gel alters its chemical and physical properties, acting as an energy transducer. As a result, a polymer gel can exhibit a range of stimuli-response actions in response to changes in external environmental conditions. These gels can shrink or expand up to a thousand times in volume.
One of the fastest growing and most profitable industry verticals within the polymers and advanced materials space, global polymer gel market size is estimated to be worth more than US$55 billion by 2024. Polymer gels can be broadly classified as hydrogels and aerogels. Their unique and versatile range of physical, chemical, and electrical characteristics makes them desirable across myriad applications spanning numerous end-use sectors.
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Immense potential in advanced medical applications
Polymer gels have rapidly gained acceptance in myriad healthcare applications on account of properties such as softness, flexibility, high water absorption, and biocompatibility. Recent advances in the design of hydrogels and aerogels have revolutionized the way biomaterials are being used to address modern biomedical needs. In the healthcare industry, polymer gels are prominently used for manufacturing personal hygiene products, contact lenses, wound dressings and drug delivery systems.
Constant research and experimentation over the past few years have considerably enhanced the application potential of these advanced materials. Studies demonstrate that polymer gels can be used to significantly enhance chemotherapy and cancer treatment. Radiation is an essential part of cancer treatment and is useful to make it as effective as possible.
In April 2019, a team of researchers from Duke University and UBC Okanagan developed an innovative system that can enhance the ability to maximize chemotherapy doses to cancer cells and tissues while limiting exposure to healthy ones. The system makes used of a specialized polymer gel market which is used to track the 3D location and assess the dose of the treatment. It also enables the direct visualization of the radiation dose immediately after the chemotherapy, resulting in highly accurate and efficient testing.
Polymer gels have gained prominence across a wide-ranging application spectrum in recent decades. However, their potential is often limited by their characteristic random and disordered nature. In December 2019, a group of researchers from the University of Tokyo discovered a way to develop a new form of polymer gel overcomes these limitations. The new polymer gel has more ordered and stable structure, which could open up new possible use-cases across different industries.
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Some key factors impacting the industry forecast
High complexity associated with the manufacturing of polymer gels market may affect overall market growth. In addition, halted manufacturing activities across many countries have resulted in a weakened demand for specialty polymers, a result of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
However, the ease of restrictions in the upcoming months and subsequent resumption of manufacturing operations will propel the industry outlook. Also, the development of newer manufacturing technologies and constant improvements in polymer gel formulations based on changing regulatory trends and specific requirements across applications will positively influence future polymer gel market trends.
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