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Elastin-Based Thermoresponsive Shape-Memory Hydrogels

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posted on 04.02.2020, 19:37 by Yuancheng Zhang, Malav S. Desai, Tao Wang, Seung-Wuk Lee
A shape-memory hydrogel is a programmable hydrogel material that can store specific shapes and execute functions in response to stimuli. In this report, we developed shape-memory hydrogels by creating double-network polymeric structures using a physically cross-linking elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) and a chemically cross-linking polyacrylamide (PAM). We synthesized the hydrogel matrix by polymerizing the acrylamide mixed in an ELP solution. We exploited the lower critical solution temperature transition of the ELP to enable the hydrogel to hold a new desired shape at an elevated temperature of 55 °C. The original shape of the hydrogel can then be recovered by lowering the temperature to 20 °C. The shape-memory hydrogels we developed exhibit ultrafast functionality and high repeatability. Taking advantage of the temperature-induced shape-memory capability, we also demonstrate practical functions such as gripping an object and connecting two tubes. Our materials with effective temperature-driven shape-memory functionality will be useful for developing novel materials for biomedical applications in the future.

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