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The supramolecular crosslinking of polymer chains in water by specific, directional and dynamic non-covalent interactions has led to the development of novel supramolecular polymeric hydrogels. These aqueous polymeric networks constitute an interesting class of soft materials exhibiting attractive properties such as stimuli-responsiveness and self-healing arising from their dynamic behaviour and that are crucial for a wide variety of emerging applications. We present here a critical review summarising the formation of dynamic polymeric networks through specific non-covalent interactions, with a particular emphasis on those systems based on host–guest complex formation, as well as the characterisation of their physical characteristics. Aqueous supramolecular chemistry has unlocked a versatile toolbox for the design and fine-tuning of the material properties of these hydrogels (264 references).
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