The scope of applications, however, is often severely limited by the mechanical behavior of hydrogels [ 5 ]. Most hydrogels do not exhibit high stretchability. For example, an alginate hydrogel ruptures when stretched to about 1. Some synthetic elastic hydrogels [ 6 , 7 ] have achieved stretches in the range of 10—20, but elastic gels are known to reduce achievable stretches markedly when samples contain notches. Despite the exciting achievements, much of the property space of hydrogels remains uncharted.
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Highly stretchable and tough hydrogels. Comment in Nature. Hydrogels are used as scaffolds for tissue engineering, vehicles for drug delivery, actuators for optics and fluidics, and model extracellular matrices for biological studies. The scope of hydrogel applications, however, is often severely limited by their mechanical behaviour.
Most hydrogels do not exhibit high stretchability; for example, an alginate hydrogel ruptures when stretched to about 1. Some synthetic elastic hydrogels have achieved stretches in the range , but these values are markedly reduced in samples containing notches. Most hydrogels are brittle, with fracture energies of about 10 J m -2 ref.
Intense efforts are devoted to synthesizing hydrogels with improved mechanical properties; certain synthetic gels have reached fracture energies of , J m -2 refs 11, 14, Here we report the synthesis of hydrogels from polymers forming ionically and covalently crosslinked networks.
Even for samples containing notches, a stretch of 17 is demonstrated. Furthermore, the network of covalent crosslinks preserves the memory of the initial state, so that much of the large deformation is removed on unloading. The unzipped ionic crosslinks cause internal damage, which heals by re-zipping. These gels may serve as model systems to explore mechanisms of deformation and energy dissipation, and expand the scope of hydrogel applications.
Highly Stretchable and Tough Hydrogels
Gels and hydrogels Abstract Hydrogels are used as scaffolds for tissue engineering 1 , vehicles for drug delivery 2 , actuators for optics and fluidics 3 , and model extracellular matrices for biological studies 4. The scope of hydrogel applications, however, is often severely limited by their mechanical behaviour 5. Most hydrogels do not exhibit high stretchability; for example, an alginate hydrogel ruptures when stretched to about 1. Some synthetic elastic hydrogels 6 , 7 have achieved stretches in the range 10—20, but these values are markedly reduced in samples containing notches.
Highly stretchable and tough hydrogels.
Author manuscript; available in PMC May Published in final edited form as: Nature. Hydrogels with enhanced mechanical properties will expand the scope of their applications. Certain synthetic hydrogels have achieved exceptional mechanical behavior. These gels deform elastically. An elastic gel is known to be brittle and notch-sensitive—that is, the high stretchability and strength drop markedly when samples contain notches, or any other features that cause inhomogeneous deformation . A gel can be made tough and notch- insensitive by introducing energy-dissipating mechanisms.
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Highly stretchable and tough hydrogels