Graphene hybrid materials? The role of graphene materials in the final structure of hydrogels†
Graphene (G), graphene oxide (GO) and graphene quantum dots (GQDs) have been introduced into a three-dimensional polymeric network based on polyacrylamide in order to ascertain the role of each nanomaterial in hydrogels. The hydrogel structure is not affected by the introduction of GQDs, since these nanoparticles do not form part of the polymeric network. G and GO modify the structure of the hydrogels but in a different way. GO seems to interact by hydrogen bonding to form non-homogeneous gels in which the mechanical properties are not markedly improved. However, G takes an active part in the formation of the polymeric network, which leads to improved mechanical properties and stability of the final material to give rise to truly hybrid hydrogels and not mere two-phase composite materials.