Fully physically cross-linked double network hydrogels with strong mechanical properties, good recovery and self-healing properties†
Combining a hydrophobic interaction crosslinked curdlan as the first network and hydrophobic interaction crosslinked polyacrylamide as the second network, we have fabricated a curdlan/HPAAm double network (DN) hydrogel using a one-pot method. The resulting DN hydrogel exhibited good mechanical properties, i.e. an elastic modulus of 103 kPa, a tensile fracture strength of 0.81 MPa, a tensile stretch of 25.3 and a compressive stress of 62.5 MPa when the compressive strain increased up to 99%. The DN gel could withstand ten compression tests under 90% compressive strain without observable damage. The DN gel demonstrated 84% stiffness recovery and 97% toughness recovery after the deformed samples were relaxed and stored at 95 °C for 4 h. The stiffness and fracture stress of the DN gel were enhanced after sterilization treatment at 120 °C. Furthermore, the gels exhibited 52% self-healing of fracture stretch after the samples were cut and brought into contact at 95 °C for 4 h. The self-recovery and self-healing properties of the DN gel both originated from the first curdlan network via the reformation of hydrophobic interactions and the second HPAAm network via reformation of the broken hydrophobic associations.