Highly Stretchable, Swelling-Resistant, Self-Healed, and Biocompatible Dual-Reinforced Double Polymer Network Hydrogels

Wei Fan, Lars R. Jensen, Yibing Dong, Abigail J. Deloria, Bengang Xing, Donghong Yu*, Morten Mattrup Smedskjær*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Superior flexibility and toughness can be achieved in bioactive hydrogels by the use of a double polymer network with complementary properties. Inspired by this design principle, we here combine polyacrylic acid (PAA) and sodium alginate (SA) to obtain a dual-reinforced double interpenetrating network (d-DIPN) hydrogel. The dual reinforcement involves ionic cross-linking and introduction of SiO2 nanoparticles, which leads to extraordinary improvements in strength and toughness. Compared with the standard PAA hydrogel that offers an elongation of 240% and a breakage stress of 0.03 MPa, the prepared SA(Ca2+)-PAA-SiO2 hydrogel shows an elongation above 1000% and a breakage stress of 1.62 MPa. Moreover, the combination of strong covalent cross-links and weak reversible interactions provides the d-DIPN hydrogel with swelling resistance and self-healing behavior, adhesive abilities, and shape memory performance. Furthermore, we show that the biocompatibility and bone cell proliferation ability of the hydrogels can be improved through a mineralization process despite an observed reduction in breakage strain and stress. Taken as a whole, our work paves the way for the design of strong and tough hydrogels, with potential applications within biomedicine and particularly tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)228-237
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC No. 201904910782).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.


  • bioactive hydrogel
  • double network
  • dual reinforcement
  • highly stretchable
  • multifunctional


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