Multi-responsive PNIPAM–PEGDA hydrogel composite
Hydrogels are widely used in applications such as soft robots and flexible sensors due to their sensitivity to environmental stimuli. It is highly demanded to develop multiple-responsive hydrogel structures. In this work, we employ the 3D printing technique to fabricate a PNIPAM–PEGDA hydrogel bilayer that can change shape through controlling the temperature, solvent mixture and magnetic field. The PNIPAM gel is a typical thermo-responsive gel, showing a decrease in swelling ratio with increasing temperature. Meanwhile, the PNIPAM gels also exhibit the cononsolvency effect in ethanol–water mixtures with a smaller swelling ratio in the mixture compared with that in each pure solvent. In comparison, the swelling ratio of PEGDA gels is insensitive to changes in both the temperature and solvent composition. Thus, the bilayer structure of PNIPAM–PEGDA can bend in different directions and with different angles with changing the temperature and solvent composition. Finally, Fe3O4 nanoparticles are incorporated into the matrix of PEGDA gels, endowing the whole structure with deformation and motion in response to an external magnetic field.