Shape-memory and self-healing functions of DNA-based carboxymethyl cellulose hydrogels driven by chemical or light triggers†
Photoresponsive nucleic acid-based carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) hydrogels are synthesized, and their application as shape-memory and self-healing functional matrices are discussed. One system involves the preparation of a carboxymethyl cellulose hydrogel crosslinked by self-complementary nucleic acid duplexes and by photoresponsive trans-azobenzene/β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) supramolecular complexes. Photoisomerization of the trans-azobenzene to the cis-azobenzene results in a hydrogel exhibiting lower stiffness due to the separation of the azobenzene/β-CD bridging units. The hydrogel is switched between high and low stiffness states by the cyclic and reversible light-induced isomerization of the azobenzene units between the trans and cis states. The light-controlled stiffness properties of the hydrogel are used to develop a shape-memory hydrogel, where the duplex bridging units act as permanent memory in the quasi-liquid shapeless state of the hydrogel. A second system in the study is a carboxymethyl cellulose hydrogel crosslinked by the K+-stabilized G-quadruplex bridging units and by trans-azobenzene/β-CD complexes. The resulting hydrogel includes dual-trigger functionalities, where the trans-azobenzene/β-CD complexes can be reversibly formed and dissociated through the trans and cis photoisomerization of the azobenzene units, and the K+-stabilized G-quadruplexes can be reversibly dissociated and reformed in the presence of 18-crown-6-ether/K+-ions. The signal-responsive crosslinked hydrogel reveals controlled stiffness properties, where the hydrogel crosslinked by the trans-azobenzene/β-CD and K+-ion-stabilized G-quadruplex reveals high stiffness and the hydrogel crosslinked only by the K+-ion-stabilized G-quadruplexes or only by the trans-azobenzene/β-CD complexes reveals low stiffness properties. The controlled stiffness properties of the hydrogel are used to develop shape-memory hydrogels, where the trans-azobenzene/β-CD complexes or the K+-ion-stabilized G-quadruplexes act as permanent memories in the shapeless and quasi-liquid states of the hydrogels. In addition, the hydrogel that includes two types of stimuli-responsive crosslinking units is used as a self-healing matrix, where each of the triggers guides the self-healing processes.
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