A Novel Design Strategy for Fully Physically Linked Double Network Hydrogels with Tough, Fatigue Resistant, and Self-Healing Properties

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Publication Date

Spring 3-10-2015


Double network (DN) hydrogels with two strong asymmetric networks being chemically linked have demonstrated their excellent mechanical properties as the toughest hydrogels, but chemically linked DN gels often exhibit negligible fatigue resistance and poor self-healing property due to the irreversible chain breaks in covalent-linked networks. Here, a new design strategy is proposed and demonstrated to improve both fatigue resistance and self-healing property of DN gels by introducing a ductile, nonsoft gel with strong hydrophobic interactions as the second network. Based on this design strategy, a new type of fully physically cross-linked Agar/hydrophobically associated polyacrylamide (HPAAm) DN gels are synthesized by a simple one-pot method. Agar/HPAAm DN gels exhibit excellent mechanical strength and high toughness, comparable to the reported DN gels. More importantly, because the ductile and tough second network of HPAAm can bear stress and reconstruct network structure, Agar/HPAAm DN gels also demonstrate rapid self-recovery, remarkable fatigue resistance, and notable self-healing property without any external stimuli at room temperature. In contrast to the former DN gels in both network structures and underlying association forces, this new design strategy to prepare highly mechanical DN gels provides a new avenue to better understand the fundamental structure-property relationship of DN hydrogels, thus broadening current hydrogel research and applications.

Publication Title

Advanced Functional Materials





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