Penn State Cooks Up Ouchless Bandages Made of Edible Starch
By Kevin Lee
The general rule for pulling off a bandage is to rip it right off in one instant. But what if it the adhesive melted all over the place or it was applied it to an extremely hairy leg? Ouchies always seem to ensue.
Penn State food researchers Lingyan Kong and Greg Ziegler want to get past the whole sticky ordeal of plastic-based bandages and make ones out of starch. A starch-based bandage could simply melt over time into nutritious glucose that’s absorbed though your skin.
Of course, this is not your basic supermarket potato starch or cornstarch. The scientists are developing their bandages from tiny, finely spun strings of a starch polymer made of amylose and amylopectin.
The starch polymer is first dissolved in a water-and-solvent solution–if the starch was broken down using water alone, it would have turned into a gel. The solution also helps the starch retains its repeating molecular structure.
From there, an electrospinning device spins the solution until it forms long, thread-like strands. The fibers can be woven into a number of things including bandages, paper, toilet paper, napkins, and other biodegradable materials.
Since starch is made up of organic compounds, it is readily biodegradable. The scientists say that starch polymers could be an abundant and eco-friendly replacement for products that typically use cellulose or petroleum-based polymers.