Toughening hydrogels through force-triggered chemical reactions that lengthen polymer strands
Longer and stronger; stiff but not brittle: Hydrogels are highly water-swollen, cross-linked polymers. Although they can be highly deformed, they tend to be weak, and methods to strengthen or toughen them tend to reduce stretchability. A new paper out of MONET now reports a strategy to create more durable hydrogels. Wang et al. introduce a toughening mechanism by storing releasable extra chain length in the stiff part of a double-network hydrogel. A high applied force triggers the opening of cyclic strands that are only activated at high chain extension.
Zi Wang, Xujun Zheng, Tetsu Ouchi, Tatiana Kouznetsova, Haley Beech, Sarah Av-Ron, Takahiro Matsuda, Brandon Bowser, Shu Wang, Jeremiah Johnson, Julia Kalow, Bradley Olsen, Jian Ping Gong, Michael Rubinstein, and Stephen Craig