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Strong, Tough, and Biocompatible Poly(vinyl alcohol)–Poly(vinylpyrrolidone) Multiscale Network Hydrogels Reinforced by Aramid Nanofibers

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posted on 2024-04-24, 04:29 authored by Dongchao Ji, Zhibo Zhang, Jingxuan Sun, Wenxin Cao, Zhuochao Wang, Xiaolei Wang, Tengyue Cao, Jiecai Han, Jiaqi Zhu
Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogels are water-rich, three-dimensional (3D) network materials that are similar to the tissue structure of living organisms. This feature gives hydrogels a wide range of potential applications, including drug delivery systems, articular cartilage regeneration, and tissue engineering. Due to the large amount of water contained in hydrogels, achieving hydrogels with comprehensive properties remains a major challenge, especially for isotropic hydrogels. This study innovatively prepares a multiscale-reinforced PVA hydrogel from molecular-level coupling to nanoscale enhancement by chemically cross-linking poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) and in situ assembled aromatic polyamide nanofibers (ANFs). The optimized ANFs–PVA–PVP (APP) hydrogels have a tensile strength of ≈9.7 MPa, an elongation at break of ≈585%, a toughness of ≈31.84 MJ/m3, a compressive strength of ≈10.6 MPa, and a high-water content of ≈80%. It is excellent among all reported PVA hydrogels and even comparable to some anisotropic hydrogels. System characterizations show that those performances are attributed to the particular multiscale load-bearing structure and multiple interactions between ANFs and PVA. Moreover, APP hydrogels exhibit excellent biocompatibility and a low friction coefficient (≈0.4). These valuable performances pave the way for broad potential in many advanced applications such as biological tissue replacement, flexible wearable devices, electronic skin, and in vivo sensors.

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