Issue 48, 2022

Self-strengthening stimuli-responsive nanocomposite hydrogels


Stimuli-responsive hydrogels with self-strengthening properties are promising for the use of autonomous growth and adaptation systems to the surrounding environments by mimicking biological materials. However, conventional stimuli-responsive hydrogels require structural destruction to initiate mechanochemical reactions to grow new polymeric networks and strengthen themselves. Here we report continuous self-strengthening of a nanocomposite hydrogel composed of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) and nanoclay (NC) by using external stimuli such as heat and ionic strength. The internal structures of the NC-PNIPAM hydrogel are rearranged through the swelling–deswelling cycles or immersing in a salt solution, thus its mechanical properties are significantly improved. The effects of concentration of NC in hydrogels, number of swelling–deswelling cycles, and presence of salt in the surrounding environment on the mechanical properties of hydrogels are characterized by nanoindentation and tensile tests. The self-strengthening mechanical performance of the hydrogels is demonstrated by the loading ability. This work may offer promise for applications such as artificial muscles and soft robotics.

Graphical abstract: Self-strengthening stimuli-responsive nanocomposite hydrogels

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
30 Sep 2022
26 Nov 2022
First published
28 Nov 2022

Nanoscale, 2022,14, 17887-17894

Self-strengthening stimuli-responsive nanocomposite hydrogels

E. Howard, M. Li, M. Kozma, J. Zhao and J. Bae, Nanoscale, 2022, 14, 17887 DOI: 10.1039/D2NR05408F

To request permission to reproduce material from this article, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity