Special Issue "Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Hyun-Joong Chung

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soft materals; hydrogels; elastomers; bioelectronics; energy storage materials

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focus on the current state-of-the-art of the fundamentals and applications of elastomers, hydrogels, and ionogels.  These polymeric materials, either in dried or in swollen states, exhibit soft and resilient mechanical properties, often with great fracture toughness.  Incorporation of functional groups or nanoparticles adds novel functionality or stimuli-responsiveness on top of their their unique mechanical properties, enabling a broad range of potential applications such as flexible or stretchable energy storage, biosensors and biomaterials, soft electronics, and many more.

Papers are sought that discuss the latest research in the area or summarize selected areas of the field. The scope of the Special Issue encompasses the synthesis, characterization, and application of elastomers and gels made of conjugated polymers, organic radical polymers, ion-conducting polymers, metal-containing polymers, or hybrid inorganic/organic motifs.

Of particular interests are on the structure-property relations of these polymeric materials, or on the novel chemistry routes to enable functionalities in these materials, or on their applications on energy and biomedical researches as a stepping stone to an interdisciplinary research.

Prof. Hyun-Joong Chung
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Elastomers
  • Hydrogels
  • Ionogels
  • Functional polymer
  • Smart materials
  • Electroactive polymer
  • Electroactive gels
  • Conjugated polymer
  • Polyelectrolyte
  • Metal-containing polymer
  • Composite
  • Energy storage
  • Batteries
  • Capacitors
  • Electrochemical transistors
  • Ion sensing transistors
  • Sensors

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle High-Strength Nanocomposite Hydrogels with Swelling-Resistant and Anti-Dehydration Properties
Polymers 2018, 10(9), 1025; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10091025
Received: 2 July 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 13 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
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Abstract
Hydrogels with excellent mechanical properties have potential for use in various fields. However, the swelling of hydrogels under water and the dehydration of hydrogels in air severely limits the practical applications of high-strength hydrogels due to the influence of air and water on
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Hydrogels with excellent mechanical properties have potential for use in various fields. However, the swelling of hydrogels under water and the dehydration of hydrogels in air severely limits the practical applications of high-strength hydrogels due to the influence of air and water on the mechanical performance of hydrogels. In this study, we report on a kind of tough and strong nanocomposite hydrogels (NC-G gels) with both swelling-resistant and anti-dehydration properties via in situ free radical copolymerization of acrylic acid (AA) and N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone (VP) in the water-glycerol bi-solvent solutions containing small amounts of alumina nanoparticles (Al2O3 NPs) as the inorganic cross-linking agents. The topotactic chelation reactions between Al2O3 NPs and polymer matrix are thought to contribute to the cross-linking structure, outstanding mechanical performance, and swelling-resistant property of NC-G gels, whereas the strong hydrogen bonds between water and glycerol endow them with anti-dehydration capacity. As a result, the NC-G gels could maintain mechanical properties comparable to other as-prepared high-strength hydrogels when utilized both under water and in air environments. Thus, this novel type of hydrogel would considerably enlarge the application range of hydrogel materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels)
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Open AccessArticle Rhodamine-Functionalized Mechanochromic and Mechanofluorescent Hydrogels with Enhanced Mechanoresponsive Sensitivity
Polymers 2018, 10(9), 994; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10090994
Received: 23 July 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 6 September 2018
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Abstract
Smart materials responsible to external stimuli such as temperature, pH, solvents, light, redox agents, and mechanical or electric/magnetic field, have drawn considerable attention recently. Herein, we described a novel rhodamine (Rh) mechanophore-based mechanoresponsive micellar hydrogel with excellent mechanochromic and mechanofluorescent properties. We found
[...] Read more.
Smart materials responsible to external stimuli such as temperature, pH, solvents, light, redox agents, and mechanical or electric/magnetic field, have drawn considerable attention recently. Herein, we described a novel rhodamine (Rh) mechanophore-based mechanoresponsive micellar hydrogel with excellent mechanochromic and mechanofluorescent properties. We found with astonishment that, due to the favorable activation of rhodamine spirolactam in the presence of water, together with the stress concentration effect, the mechanoresponsive sensitivity of this hydrogel was enhanced significantly. As a result, the stress needed to trigger the mechanochromic property of Rh in the hydrogel was much lower than in its native polymer matrix reported before. The hydrogel based on Rh, therefore, exhibited excellent mechanochromic property even at lower stress. Moreover, due to the reversibility of color on/off, the hydrogel based on Rh could be used as a reusable and erasable material for color printing/writing. Of peculiar importance is that the hydrogel could emit highly bright fluorescence under sufficient stress or strain. This suggested that the stress/strain of hydrogel could be detected quantificationally and effectively by the fluorescence data. We also found that the hydrogel could respond to acid/alkali and exhibited outstanding properties of acidichromism and acidifluorochromism. Up to now, hydrogels with such excellent mechanochromic and mechanofluorescent properties have rarely been reported. Our efforts may be essentially beneficial to the design of the mechanochromic and mechanofluorescent hydrogels with enhanced mechanoresponsive sensitivity, fostering their potential applications in a number of fields such as damage or stress/strain detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels)
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Open AccessArticle Thermosensitive Behavior and Super-Antibacterial Properties of Cotton Fabrics Modified with a Sercin-NIPAAm-AgNPs Interpenetrating Polymer Network Hydrogel
Polymers 2018, 10(8), 818; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10080818
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 25 July 2018
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Abstract
Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm), sericin (SS), and silver nitrate were combined to prepare an interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogel having dual functions of temperature sensitivity and antibacterial properties. The structure and size of AgNPs in such an IPN hydrogel were characterized by the Fourier
[...] Read more.
Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm), sericin (SS), and silver nitrate were combined to prepare an interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogel having dual functions of temperature sensitivity and antibacterial properties. The structure and size of AgNPs in such an IPN hydrogel were characterized by the Fourier Transform Infrared spectrum (FT-IR), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) and Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), and the thermal properties of the IPN hydrogel were characterized by Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). Based on XRD patterns, Ag+ was successfully reduced to Ag0 by SS. It was observed by TEM that the particle size of silver particles was lower than 100 nm. The glass transition temperature (Tg) of IPN hydrogel was better than that of the PNIPAAm/AgNPs hydrogels, and lower critical solution temperature (LCST) values of the IPN hydrogel were obtained by DSC i.e. 31 °C. The thermal stability of the IPN hydrogel was successfully determined by the TGA. This IPN hydrogel was then used to modify the cotton fabrics by the “impregnation” method using glutaraldehyde (GA) as the cross-linking agent. The structures and properties of IPN hydrogel modified cotton fabric were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), FT-IR, and the thermogravimetry analysis (TGA). The results show that NIPAAm was successfully polymerized into PNIPAAm, and that there were neglected new groups in the hydrogel IPN. The IPN hydrogel was then successfully grafted onto cotton fabrics. SEM observations showed that the IPN hydrogel formed a membrane structure between the fibers, and improved the compactness of the fibers. At the temperature close to LCST (≈31 °C), the entire system was easily able to absorb water molecules. However, the hydrophilicity tended to decrease when the temperature was higher or lower than the LCST. The antibacterial rates of the modified cotton fabric against S. aureus and E. coli were as high as 99%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels)
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Open AccessArticle High Performance Clean Fracturing Fluid Using a New Tri-Cationic Surfactant
Polymers 2018, 10(5), 535; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10050535
Received: 20 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
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Abstract
In order to improve the heat resistance of current clean fracturing fluids, a novel cationic surfactant (VES-T), composed of three single-chains and a spacer group, was designed and synthesized as thickener for the fluids. Various performances of such VES-T fluid in the presence
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In order to improve the heat resistance of current clean fracturing fluids, a novel cationic surfactant (VES-T), composed of three single-chains and a spacer group, was designed and synthesized as thickener for the fluids. Various performances of such VES-T fluid in the presence of NaSal were evaluated carefully. Study of the rheological properties demonstrated that the fluids with varying concentrations (3–5 wt %) of VES-T have excellent thermal stabilities under ultra-high temperatures ranging from 140 to 180 °C. Until now, this is the highest temperature that the VES fracturing fluid could bear. The VES-T/NaSal fluid exhibited good viscoelasticity and proppant-suspending capability, which was attributed to the three-dimensional network formed by entangled wormlike micelles. Furthermore, the VES fracturing fluids can be completely gel broken by standard brines within 2 h. Thus, the VES-T synthesized in this work has a good prospect for utilization during the development of ultra-high temperature reservoirs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels)
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Open AccessArticle Influence of Ethylene Glycol Methacrylate to the Hydration and Transition Behaviors of Thermo-Responsive Interpenetrating Polymeric Network Hydrogels
Polymers 2018, 10(2), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10020128
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 29 January 2018
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Abstract
The influence of ethylene glycol methacrylate (EGMA) to the hydration and transition behaviors of thermo-responsive interpenetrating polymeric network (IPN) hydrogels containing sodium alginate, N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm), and EGMA were investigated. The molar ratios of NIPAAm and EGMA were varied from 20:0 to 19.5:0.5
[...] Read more.
The influence of ethylene glycol methacrylate (EGMA) to the hydration and transition behaviors of thermo-responsive interpenetrating polymeric network (IPN) hydrogels containing sodium alginate, N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm), and EGMA were investigated. The molar ratios of NIPAAm and EGMA were varied from 20:0 to 19.5:0.5 and 18.5:1.5 in the thermo-responsive alginate-Ca2+/P(NIPAAm-co-EGMA) IPN hydrogels. Due to the more hydrophilicity and high flexibility of EGMA, the IPN hydrogels exhibited higher lower critical solution temperature (LCST) and lower glass transition temperature (Tg) when the ratio of EGMA increases. The swelling/deswelling kinetics of the IPN hydrogels could be controlled by adjusting the NIPAAm/EGMA molar ratio. A faster water uptake rate and a slower water loss rate could be realized by increase the amount of EGMA in the IPN hydrogel (the shrinking rate constant was decreased from 0.01207 to 0.01195 and 0.01055 with the changing of NIPAAm/EGMA ratio from 20:0, 19.5:0.5 to 18.5:1.5). By using 2-Isopropylthioxanthone (ITX) as a photo initiator, the obtained alginate-Ca2+/P(NIPAAm-co-EGMA360) IPN hydrogels were successfully immobilized on cotton fabrics. The surface and cross section of the hydrogel were probed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). They all exhibited a porous structure, and the pore size was increased with the amount of EGMA. Moreover, the LCST values of the fabric-grafted hydrogels were close to those of the pure IPN hydrogels. Their thermal sensitivity remained unchanged. The cotton fabrics grafted with hydrogel turned out to be much softer with the continuous increase of EGMA amount. Therefore, compared with alginate-Ca2+/PNIPAAm hydrogel, alginate-Ca2+/P(NIPAAm-co-EGMA360) hydrogel is a more promising candidate for wound dressing in the field of biomedical textile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart and Functional Elastomers, Hydrogels, and Ionogels)
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