Fracture Resistant Nanocomposite Hydrogel

September 23, 2013

Hydrogels are 3-dimensional polymeric networks with water content as much as over 99 weight percent (wt%). They are utilized in various applications including tissue adhesives, extracellular matrices for tissue engineering and repair, drug delivery vehicles, and actuators. However, classic hydrogels are fragile and have a very narrow elastic range, which makes them unsuitable for most load-bearing situations. Nanocomposite hydrogels, composed of inorganic nanoparticles dispersed within a crosslinked organic polymer network, have demonstrated increased materials properties over conventional hydrogels. Biomimetic adhesive moiety, dopamine, was incorporated into a nanocomposite hydrogel network to enhance the interfacial binding between the polymer network and encapsulated nanoparticles. These nanocomposite hydrogels demonstrated improved fracture resistance to compressive loading, capable of repeated compressed to 80% strain without rest while exhibiting compressive stress of over 1 MPa. The catechol side chain of dopamine likely formed strong reversible bonds with the nanoparticles, which can be repeatedly broken and reform to dissipate fracture energy while minimizing permanent damage to the network architecture.

 
Related Publications:

Sarah Skelton,*Michael Bostwick,* Kyle O’Connor, Shari Konst, Samuel Casey and Bruce P. Lee. “Biomimetic adhesive containing nanocomposite hydrogel with enhanced materials properties”. Soft Matter, 9, 3825-33, (2013). *Equal contribution. [Link]

 

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