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Fast and Large Shrinking of Thermoresponsive Hydrogels with Phase-Separated Structures

Title
Fast and Large Shrinking of Thermoresponsive Hydrogels with Phase-Separated Structures
Authors
Chung, T.Han, Im KyungHan, J.Ahn, K.Kim, Youn Soo
Date Issued
2021-02
Publisher
MDPI AG
Abstract
Thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) hydrogels have been attracting attention in a variety of functional materials, such as biomaterials, because they exhibit a volume phase transition phenomenon near physiological temperatures. However, the slow kinetics and small volume shrinkage of bulk PNIPAAm hydrogels upon heating greatly limit their practical application. Here, we report PNIPAAm hydrogels with phase-separated structures that exhibited ultrafast shrinking upon heating. The phase separation into a PNIPAAm-rich phase and a water-rich phase was formed through aqueous polymerization in the presence of NaClO4 salt. Through structural analysis of the hydrogels, a topologically heterogeneous and porous structure was observed, which was highly dependent on the NaClO4 concentration in the polymerization step. Compared to conventional PNIPAAm hydrogels, the phase-separated hydrogels exhibited much faster and larger shrinkage upon heating. Simultaneously, the hydrogels quickly released a large amount of water owing to the effective water channels inside them. The present method can be widely applied to general hydrogels, and it can address the numerous limitations of hydrogels in terms of operating programmability and deformation efficiency.
URI
https://oasis.postech.ac.kr/handle/2014.oak/106680
ISSN
2310-2861
Article Type
Article
Citation
Gels, vol. 7, no. 1, page. 1 - 10, 2021-02
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