Facile preparation of low swelling, high strength, self-healing and pH-responsive hydrogels based on the triple-network structure

  • Zhicun Wang
  • Xiaoman Han
  • Yixi Wang
  • Kenan Men
  • Lin CuiEmail author
  • Jianning Wu
  • Guihua Meng
  • Zhiyong LiuEmail author
  • Xuhong Guo
Research Article


A polyacrylic acid (PAA)/gelatin (Gela)/polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogel was prepared by copolymerization, cooling, and freezing/thawing methods. This triplenetwork (TN) structure hydrogel displayed superior mechanical properties, low swelling ratio and self-healing properties. The superior mechanical properties are attributed to the triple helix association of Gela and PVA crystallites by reversible hydrogen bonding. The characterization results indicated that the fracture stress and the strain were 808 kPa and 370% respectively, while the compression strength could reach 4443 kPa and the compressive modulus was up to 39 MPa under the deformation of 90%. The hydrogen bonding in PVA contributed to maintain and improve the self-healing ability of hydrogels. Every type of hydrogels exhibited a higher swelling ratio under alkaline conditions, and the swelling ratios of PAA, PAA/PVA and PAA/Gela hydrogels were 27.71, 12.30 and 9.09, respectively. The PAA/Gela/PVA TN hydrogel showed the lowest swelling ratio (6.57) among these hydrogels. These results indicate that the novel TN hydrogels possess good environmental adaptability and have potential applications in the biomedical engineering and sensor field.


hydrogel triple-network structure mechanical property swelling selfhealing 


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This work was supported financially by funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51662036 and 21467024) and the Graduate Student Scientific Research Innovation Projects in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China (XJGRI2017046).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhicun Wang
    • 1
  • Xiaoman Han
    • 1
  • Yixi Wang
    • 1
  • Kenan Men
    • 2
  • Lin Cui
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jianning Wu
    • 1
  • Guihua Meng
    • 1
  • Zhiyong Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xuhong Guo
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringShihezi University/Key Laboratory for Green Processing of Chemical Engineering of Xinjiang Bingtuan/Key Laboratory of Materials-Oriented Chemical Engineering of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region/Engineering Research Center of Materials-Oriented Chemical Engineering of Xinjiang BingtuanShiheziChina
  2. 2.Bingtuan Sishi HospitalYiliChina
  3. 3.School of MedicineShihezi UniversityShiheziChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Chemical EngineeringEast China University of Science and TechnologyShanghaiChina

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