Double-network hydrogels reinforced with covalently bonded silica nanoparticles via 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide chemistry

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Hydrogels have progressed from single-network materials with low mechanical integrity to double-network hydrogels (DNHGs) with tough, tunable properties. In this work, we introduce a nanocomposite structure into the first network of a DNHG. Amine-functionalized silica nanoparticles (ASNPs) were covalently cross-linked by forming amide bonds through the carboxylic groups of polyacrylic acid (PAAc) in the first network. DNHGs with varying sizes of ASNPs (50, 100, and 150 nm) and varying concentrations (2.5, 10, 20, and 40 wt %) were explored and compared to a control without a nanocomposite structure. Compressive strengths improved from 0.10 MPa for the control to a maximum of 1.28 MPa for the PAAc/PAAm DNHGs. All hydrogels experienced increased resistance to strain with a maximum of 74% compared to 45% for the control. SEM images of freeze-dried gels showed that ASNPs were integrated into the gel mesh. Nanoparticle retention was calculated using thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) with improved retention values for larger ASNPs. New DNHG composites have been formed with improved mechanical properties and a potential use in tissue engineering and biomaterial applications.

Journal details

Journal ACS Omega
Volume 7
Issue number 48
Pages 43904-43914
Available online
Publication date

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author