In situ polymerized hyperbranched polymer reinforced poly(acrylic acid) hydrogels
Hydrogels have been extensively investigated for use in various applications. Poly acrylic acid (PAA) is a common example, which has been widely used due to its super hydrophilicity properties, biocompatibility and biodegradability characteristics. However its poor mechanical properties, which have been addressed in many research studies, are known as a drawback that limits its applications. So, enhancing PAA mechanical properties using a hyperbranched polymer (HB) is the key question to be addressed in this research. Investigations of the mechanical properties of the PAA-HB hydrogel revealed 130% improvement in the ultimate tensile strength, indicating a two times enhancement compared to that of PAA. Statistical analysis showed that the overall effect of introducing notches (with different depths) on the selected mechanical properties of both PAA and PAA-HB was significant. Mechanical characterization of PAA-HB networks showed that significant improvement in the mechanical properties was achieved as the capability of water uptake increased by 20%. Characterization of the physical properties confirmed that participation of HB may form a PAA based hybrid material with good swelling properties. Those findings are attributed to the supramolecular structure of the HB, which can introduce physical entanglement between the PAA network structure and increase the crystallinity of the final hydrogel as compared to those from the PAA hydrogel.
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