American Chemical Society
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Bioinspired Design of a Cartilage-like Lubricated Composite with Mechanical Robustness

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-09, 17:04 authored by Weiyi Zhao, Yunlei Zhang, Xiaoduo Zhao, Zhongying Ji, Zhengfeng Ma, Xiangsheng Gao, Shuanhong Ma, Xiaolong Wang, Feng Zhou
Natural articular cartilages show extraordinary tribological performance based on their penetrated surface lubricated biomacromolecules and good mechanical tolerance. Hydrogels are considered to be potential alternatives to cartilages due to their low surface friction and good biocompatibility, although the poor mechanical properties limited their applications. Inspired by the excellent mechanical properties and the remarkable surface lubrication mechanism of natural articular cartilages, one kind of cartilage-like composite material with a lubrication phase (Composite-LP) was developed by chemically grafting a thick hydrophilic polyelectrolyte brush layer onto the subsurface of a three-dimensional manufactured elastomer scaffold–hydrogel composite architecture. The Composite-LP exhibited good load-bearing capacities because of the nondissipation strategy and the stress dispersion mechanism resulting from the elastomer scaffold enhancement. In the presence of the top lubrication layer, the Composite-LP showed superior friction reduction functionality and wear resistance under a dynamic shearing process. This design concept of coupling the non-dissipative mechanism and interface lubrication provides a new avenue for developing cartilage-like hydrogels and soft robots.