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Tough and Durable Hydrogels with Robust Skin Layers Formed via a Soaking Treatment


Recent progress has seen significant advances in mechanical performances of synthetic hydrogels. However, the mechanics of hydrogels usually suffer drastic degradation under repetitive mechanical and complicated environmental loadings. Here, we fabricate a class of biocompatible layered poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogels through simply soaking a preformed poly(vinyl alcohol) gel in sodium silicate. The resulting hydrogels exhibit a combination of superior mechanical performances, good biocompatibility, along with exceptional chemical robustness. The layered structure is composed of a compact cover layer and porous center layer. Both layers are composed of poly (vinyl alcohol). The network in cover is crosslinked by ordered polarized H-bonds with swelling-stability, while the porous center confines large volume of interstitial water. The structural and crosslinking metric confers the hydrogel with capabilities to tolerate complicated mechanical and environmental loads. The optimized gel is tough (fracture energy >10 kJ/m2) and strong (fracture stress≈5 MPa). The strengthening mechanism can be corrleted to the layered structure, which cause the impeded flow of interstitial water. Their mechanical performance is maintained in strong acid/alkaline, concentrated electrolyte, salting-in and H-bond-breaking reagents even at elevated temperatures. We speculate that the dipole-dipole pairings of Oδ–-Hδ+--- Oδ–-Hδ+ in cover layer probably generate hydrophobic microdomains. This swelling-resistant interaction may protect the hydrogels from swelling in complex aquous environments. We also discuss the possible mechanism on the formation of layered structure and the crosslinkings.

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Publication details

The article was received on 27 Sep 2018, accepted on 30 Oct 2018 and first published on 01 Nov 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TB02540A
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. B, 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Tough and Durable Hydrogels with Robust Skin Layers Formed via a Soaking Treatment

    G. Guo, Y. Chen, X. Liu, D. Y. Zhu, B. Zhang, N. Lin and L. Gao, J. Mater. Chem. B, 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8TB02540A

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