Simulating hydrogels in Morpho

In my latest work, published in the Soft Matter journal, we build an energy-optimization based model of hydrogel swelling to explore the mechanics of swelling hydrogels packed in a matrix of beads, like they would be in agricultural soil. Inspired by beautiful experimental work by our collaborators Jean-Francois Louf (Auburn University) and Sujit Datta (Princeton University), we study this model scenario that mimics hydrogel beads used for soil treatment to improve water retention. With early modeling work from Mathew Giso, this work builds a computational model that allows us to understand the stress distribution in the material, and explore the unusual contact mechanics of these fascinating materials. Our code is implemented in Morpho, a fully open-source programming environment for shape optimization. All the hydrogel-specific codes are available with the paper and with the pre-print.