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Polymers 2018, 10(8), 880; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10080880

Tough and Self-Healable Nanocomposite Hydrogels for Repeatable Water Treatment

Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
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Received: 28 June 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanics of Emerging Polymers with Unprecedented Networks)
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Abstract

Nanomaterials with ultrahigh specific surface areas are promising adsorbents for water-pollutants such as dyes and heavy metal ions. However, an ongoing challenge is that the dispersed nanomaterials can easily flow into the water stream and induce secondary pollution. To address this challenge, we employed nanomaterials to bridge hydrogel networks to form a nanocomposite hydrogel as an alternative water-pollutant adsorbent. While most of the existing hydrogels that are used to treat wastewater are weak and non-healable, we present a tough TiO2 nanocomposite hydrogel that can be activated by ultraviolet (UV) light to demonstrate highly efficient self-healing, heavy metal adsorption, and repeatable dye degradation. The high toughness of the nanocomposite hydrogel is induced by the sequential detachment of polymer chains from the nanoparticle crosslinkers to dissipate the stored strain energy within the polymer network. The self-healing behavior is enabled by the UV-assisted rebinding of the reversible bonds between the polymer chains and nanoparticle surfaces. Also, the UV-induced free radicals on the TiO2 nanoparticle can facilitate the binding of heavy metal ions and repeated degradation of dye molecules. We expect this self-healable, photo-responsive, tough hydrogel to open various avenues for resilient and reusable wastewater treatment materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: tough hydrogel; titanium dioxide; self-healing; heavy metal; dye degradation tough hydrogel; titanium dioxide; self-healing; heavy metal; dye degradation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Yu, K.; Wang, D.; Wang, Q. Tough and Self-Healable Nanocomposite Hydrogels for Repeatable Water Treatment. Polymers 2018, 10, 880.

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