Tough and tunable adhesion of hydrogels: experiments and models

Teng Zhang, Hyunwoo Yuk, Shaoting Lin, German A. Parada, Xuanhe Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

As polymer networks infiltrated with water, hydrogels are major constituents of animal and plant bodies and have diverse engineering applications. While natural hydrogels can robustly adhere to other biological materials, such as bonding of tendons and cartilage on bones and adhesive plaques of mussels, it is challenging to achieve such tough adhesions between synthetic hydrogels and engineering materials. Recent experiments show that chemically anchoring long-chain polymer networks of tough synthetic hydrogels on solid surfaces create adhesions tougher than their natural counterparts, but the underlying mechanism has not been well understood. It is also challenging to tune systematically the adhesion of hydrogels on solids. Here, we provide a quantitative understanding of the mechanism for tough adhesions of hydrogels on solid materials via a combination of experiments, theory, and numerical simulations. Using a coupled cohesive-zone and Mullins-effect model validated by experiments, we reveal the interplays of intrinsic work of adhesion, interfacial strength, and energy dissipation in bulk hydrogels in order to achieve tough adhesions. We further show that hydrogel adhesion can be systematically tuned by tailoring the hydrogel geometry and silanization time of solid substrates, corresponding to the control of energy dissipation zone and intrinsic work of adhesion, respectively. The current work further provides a theoretical foundation for rational design of future biocompatible and underwater adhesives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalActa Mechanica Sinica/Lixue Xuebao
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - May 12 2017

Keywords

  • Adhesion
  • Hydrogels
  • Mullins effect
  • Soft materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanical Engineering

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