Controlling Hydrogel Mechanics via Bio-Inspired Polymer-Nanoparticle Bond Dynamics.

TitleControlling Hydrogel Mechanics via Bio-Inspired Polymer-Nanoparticle Bond Dynamics.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLi, Q, Barrett, DG, Messersmith, PB, Holten-Andersen, N
JournalACS nano
Pagination1317 - 24
Date Published2016/01//

Interactions between polymer molecules and inorganic nanoparticles can play a dominant role in nanocomposite material mechanics, yet control of such interfacial interaction dynamics remains a significant challenge particularly in water. This study presents insights on how to engineer hydrogel material mechanics via nanoparticle interface-controlled cross-link dynamics. Inspired by the adhesive chemistry in mussel threads, we have incorporated iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) into a catechol-modified polymer network to obtain hydrogels cross-linked via reversible metal-coordination bonds at Fe3O4 NP surfaces. Unique material mechanics result from the supra-molecular cross-link structure dynamics in the gels; in contrast to the previously reported fluid-like dynamics of transient catechol-Fe(3+) cross-links, the catechol-Fe3O4 NP structures provide solid-like yet reversible hydrogel mechanics. The structurally controlled hierarchical mechanics presented here suggest how to develop hydrogels with remote-controlled self-healing dynamics.