Herbal molecule-mediated dual network hydrogels with adhesive and antibacterial properties for strain and pressure sensing†
Multifunctional integration is the focus of hydrogel-based flexible sensors, and formation of a dual network (DN) could shed light on the fabrication of hydrogels with multifunctionality and enhanced properties. In this study, a DN hydrogel was fabricated by the self-assembly of herbal molecule glycyrrhizic acid (GA) as the first hydrogel network and subsequent photocrosslinking of methacrylated sodium alginate (SA-MA) to form the second network. Profiting from the good compatibility between the two hydrogel networks, the obtained DN hydrogels with a homogeneous porous microstructure were endowed with remarkably enlarged stretching (114.5%) and compression (74.4%) strains. In addition, they were demonstrated to display excellent bacteriostatic activity (>99.9%) against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus owing to the synergetic antibacterial effect of GA and SA-MA. The DN hydrogels as strain sensors possessed high sensitivity (GF = 1.39), linear sensing (R2 > 0.99), rapid response (180 ms), and good stability (1300 times) for human motion detection. Besides, the DN hydrogels could also be used to conduct pressure sensing such as application of heavy weights and even human pulses. All results suggest that the developed DN hydrogels have great potential in serving as epidermal and implantable flexible sensors for human health monitoring.