Recent developments in tough hydrogels for biomedical applications

Yuan Liu, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Weilue He, FM Wound Care LLC
Zhongtian Zhang, Michigan Technological University
Bruce Lee, Michigan Technological University

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A hydrogel is a three-dimensional polymer network with high water content and has been attractive for many biomedical applications due to its excellent biocompatibility. However, classic hydrogels are mechanically weak and unsuitable for most physiological load-bearing situations. Thus, the development of tough hydrogels used in the biomedical field becomes critical. This work reviews various strategies to fabricate tough hydrogels with the introduction of non-covalent bonds and the construction of stretchable polymer networks and interpenetrated networks, such as the so-called double-network hydrogel. Additionally, the design of tough hydrogels for tissue adhesive, tissue engineering, and soft actuators is reviewed.