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Toughening Hydrogels Through Force-triggered Chemical Reactions that Lengthen Polymer Strands

preprint
submitted on 02.01.2021, 19:02 and posted on 04.01.2021, 13:20 by Zi Wang, Xu Jun Zheng, Tetsu Ouchi, Tatiana Kouznetsova, Haley Beech, Sarah Av-Ron, Brandon Bowser, Shu Wang, Jeremiah Johnson, Julia Kalow, Bradley Olsen, Jian Ping Gong, Michael Rubinstein, Stephen Craig

The utility and lifetime of materials made from polymer networks, including hydrogels, depend on their capacity to stretch and resist tearing. In gels and elastomers, those mechanical properties are often limited by the covalent chemical structure of the polymer strands between cross-links, which is typically fixed during the material synthesis. Here, we report polymer networks in which the constituent strands lengthen through force-coupled reactions that are triggered as the strands reach their nominal breaking point. Reactive strand extensions of up to 40% lead to hydrogels that stretch 40-50% further than, and exhibit tear energies twice that of, networks made from analogous control strands. The enhancements are synergistic with those provided by double network architectures, and complement other existing toughening strategies.

Funding

CHE-1832256

History

Email Address of Submitting Author

zi.wang1@duke.edu

Institution

duke university

Country

United States

ORCID For Submitting Author

0000-0003-2544-3572

Declaration of Conflict of Interest

no conflict of interest

Exports