Hybrid organic–inorganic supramolecular hydrogel reinforced with CePO4 nanowires†
We report a method to enhance the stiffness in the rheological yield strain of cucurbituril (CB)-based hydrogels by introducing inorganic nanowires (NWs) into the supramolecular networks. The supramolecular hydrogel is comprised of methylviologen-functionalised poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA-MV), hydroxyethyl cellulose with naphthyl moieties (HEC-Np) and CB macrocyclic hosts. The gel structure can be effectively enhanced by the framework supporting effects of cerous phosphate NWs and additional hydrogen bonding interactions between the NWs and the PVA-MV/HEC-Np polymers. The high aspect ratio NWs serve as a “skeleton” for the network providing extra physical crosslinks, resulting in a single continuous phase hybrid supramolecular network with improved strength, presenting a general approach to reinforce soft materials.