How to Design Both Mechanically Strong and Self-Healable Hydrogels?

Okay O.

SELF-HEALING AND SELF-RECOVERING HYDROGELS, vol.285, pp.21-62, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 285
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/12_2019_53
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica
  • Page Numbers: pp.21-62
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Several strategies have been developed in the past decade for the fabrication of self-healing or self-recovery hydrogels. Because self-healing and mechanical strength are two antagonistic features, this chapter tries to answer the question "How to design both mechanically strong and self-healable hydrogels?". Here, I show that although autonomic self-healing could not be achieved in high-strength hydrogels, a significant reversible hard-to-soft or first-order transition in cross-link domains induced by an external trigger creates self-healing function in such hydrogels. I mainly focus on the physical hydrogels prepared via hydrogen-bonding and hydrophobic interactions. High-strength H-bonded hydrogels prepared via self-complementary dual or multiple H-binding interactions between hydrophilic polymer chains having hydrophobic moieties exhibit self-healing capability at elevated temperatures. Hydrophobic interactions between hydrophobically modified hydrophilic polymers lead to physical hydrogels containing hydrophobic associations and crystalline domains acting as weak and strong cross-links, respectively. Semicrystalline self-healing hydrogels exhibit the highest mechanical strength reported so far and a high self-healing efficiency induced by heating above the melting temperature of the alkyl crystals. Research in the field of self-healing hydrogels provided several important findings not only in the field of self-healing but also in other applications, such as injectable gels and smart inks for 3D or 4D printing.