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Bonding dissimilar polymer networks in various manufacturing processes

Qihan Liu's picture

Dear Friends,

Please find our paper on Nature Communications about a novel method to bond hydrogel and elastomers. Comparing to existing methods, our method features the applicability to various manufacturing processes, including dip-coating and 3D printing.

Link to the paper


Recently developed devices mimic neuromuscular and neurosensory systems by integrating hydrogels and hydrophobic elastomers. While different methods are developed to bond hydrogels with hydrophobic elastomers, it remains a challenge to coat and print various hydrogels and elastomers of arbitrary shapes, in arbitrary sequences, with strong adhesion. Here we report an approach to meet this challenge. We mix silane coupling agents into the precursors of the networks, and tune the kinetics such that, when the networks form, the coupling agents incorporate into the polymer chains, but do not condensate. After a manufacturing step, the coupling agents condensate, add crosslinks inside the networks, and form bonds between the networks. This approach enables independent bonding and manufacturing. We formulate oxygen-tolerant hydrogel resins for spinning, printing, and coating in the open air. We find that thin elastomer coatings enable hydrogels to sustain high temperatures without boiling.

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