Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing: Diseases and disorders of cartilage tissue are one of the leading causes of disability in the US. However, many biocompatible materials do not have sufficient mechanical strength and elasticity to serve as scaffolds for cartilage repair. University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers Surita Bhatia and Gregory Tew have developed techniques to disperse nanosized discs within biocompatible polymer matrices, resulting in biocompatible gels with superior control over mechanical properties. By varying the loading and surface chemistry of the nanodiscs, the elasticity of these materials can be tuned to match the mechanical properties of several soft tissues, including cartilage. Initial results also suggest that the presence of the nanodiscs result in improved cell viability.