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Tough, Adhesive, Self-Healable, and Transparent Ionically Conductive Zwitterionic Nanocomposite Hydrogels as Skin Strain Sensors

Wang, Liufang, Gao, Guorong, Zhou, Yang, Xu, Ting, Chen, Jing, Wang, Rong, Zhang, Rui, Fu, Jun
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.11 no.3 pp. 3506-3515
adhesion, crosslinking, hydrogels, modulus of rupture, nanocomposites, silicone, zwitterions
It is desired to create skin strain sensors composed of multifunctional conductive hydrogels with excellent toughness and adhesion properties to sustain cyclic loadings during use and facilitate the electrical signal transmission. Herein, we prepared transparent, compliant, and adhesive zwitterionic nanocomposite hydrogels with excellent mechanical properties. The incorporated zwitterionic polymers can form interchain dipole–dipole associations to offer additional physical cross-linking of the network. The hydrogels show a high fracture elongation up to 2000%, a fracture strength up to 0.27 MPa, and a fracture toughness up to 2.45 MJ/m³. Moreover, the reversible physical interaction imparts the hydrogels with rapid self-healing ability without any stimuli. The hydrogels are adhesive to many surfaces including polyelectrolyte hydrogels, skin, glasses, silicone rubbers, and nitrile rubbers. The presence of abundant zwitterionic groups facilitates ionic conductivity in the hydrogels. The combination of these properties enables the hydrogels to act as strain sensors with high sensitivity (gauge factor = 1.8). The strategy to design the tough, adhesive, self-healable, and conductive hydrogels as skin strain sensors by the zwitterionic nanocomposite hydrogels is promising for practical applications.