Agar-reduced graphene oxide selectively adsorbs organic dyes and strengthens double-network hydrogels†
A straightforward and environmentally friendly method for synthesizing agar-reduced graphene oxide (ArGO) was devised. The topological features and emergent physical properties displayed by the novel carbon material were controlled by varying its water content. Dehydrated films of ArGO were found to be stable in water due to the π–π stacking interactions that formed between the aromatic components of its constituent sheets. In contrast, porous variants of ArGO afforded hydrogels that exhibited high swelling capacities. The intrinsic mechanical strength, elasticity and chemical stability of the hydrogels were further enhanced through adaption into double-network analogues. Such hydrogels, which were prepared using a facile and efficient one-pot methodology, exhibited a high fracture stress upon compression, and retained their shape in basic aqueous environments. These features can be expected to enable water purification and tissue engineering applications, among others.