Effect of the constituent networks of double-network gels on their mechanical properties and energy dissipation process
Double-network (DN) gels, consisting of brittle first and ductile second networks, possess extraordinary strength, extensibility, and fracture toughness while maintaining a high solvent content. Herein, we prepare DN gels consisting of various concentrations of the first and second networks to investigate the effect of each network structure on the tensile and fracture properties of DN gels. The results showed that the tensile properties of DN gels before yielding are mainly dominated by the first network, serving as a skeleton, whereas the properties after necking are determined by both networks. Moreover, we found that the DN gels with significant energy dissipation capacities exhibit high fracture resistance. Thus, this study not only confirms the factors determining the mechanical characteristics of DN gels but also explains how the two networks concertedly improve the toughness of DN gels.