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Highly Stretchable and Tough Hydrogels below Water Freezing Temperature

Xavier Morelle's picture

Xavier P. Morelle, Widusha R. Illeperuma, Kevin Tian, Ruobing Bai, Zhigang Suo, Joost J. Vlassak


Hydrogels consist of hydrophilic polymer networks dispersed in water. Many applications of hydrogels rely on their unique combination of solid-like mechanical behavior and water-like transport properties. If the temperature is lowered below 0°C, however, hydrogels freeze and become rigid, brittle, and non-conductive. Here, we demonstrate a general class of hydrogels that do not freeze at temperatures far below 0°C, while retaining high stretchability and fracture toughness. These hydrogels are synthetized by adding a suitable amount of an ionic compound to the hydrogel. The present study focuses on tough polyacrylamide-alginate double network hydrogels equilibrated with aqueous solutions of calcium chloride. The resulting hydrogels cab be cooled to temperatures as low as -57°C without freezing. In this temperature range, the hydrogels can still be stretched more than four times their initial length adn have a fracture toughness of 5000 J m-2. It is anticipated that this new class of hydrogels will prove useful in developing new applications operating under a broad range of environmental and atmospheric conditions.


Guoyong Mao's picture

nice work, XV

Xavier Morelle's picture

Thanks Guoyong! How are you doing? ;-)

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