Supramolecular association in binary hydrogels

Supramolecular association in binary hydrogels

In conventional synthetic or biological polymers, where monomeric constituents are connected through covalent bonds, their physical properties such as viscoelasticity can be tuned by blending different polymers, adding molecular solvents, or by copolymerization of two or more different monomers. An additional possibility with ample implications in tailoring their properties is introducing physical interactions (e.g., hydrogen bonds) which lead to the formation of dynamic networks.

Supramolecular polymers are known to form strong and resilient hydrogels which can take up large amounts of water while exhibiting ease of processing and self-healing. They also possess similarities with networks of biological macromolecules. The combination of these features makes supramolecular polymers ideal candidates for studying mechanisms and consequences of self-assembly, which are relevant to biological materials.

We have investigated the composition dependent rheology of hydrogels which are based on the same hydrogen bonding motif BTA, to produce responsive materials with tunable properties.

Read about our work in collaboration with the groups of Bert Meijer (TU Eindhoven) and of Dimitris Vlassopoulos (FORTH), recently appeared in ACS Central Science.

Competitive Supramolecular Associations Mediate the Viscoelasticity of Binary Hydrogels