Development of visible-light responsive and mechanically enhanced "smart" UCST interpenetrating network hydrogels

Yifei Xu, Onkar Ghag, Morgan Reimann, Philip Sitterle, Prithwish Chatterjee, Elizabeth Nofen, Hongyu Yu, Hanqing Jiang, Lenore Dai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


An interpenetrating polymer network (IPN), chlorophyllin-incorporated environmentally responsive hydrogel was synthesized and exhibited the following features: enhanced mechanical properties, upper critical solution temperature (UCST) swelling behavior, and promising visible-light responsiveness. Poor mechanical properties are known challenges for hydrogel-based materials. By forming an interpenetrating network between polyacrylamide (PAAm) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAAc) polymer networks, the mechanical properties of the synthesized IPN hydrogels were significantly improved compared to hydrogels made of a single network of each polymer. The formation of the interpenetrating network was confirmed by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), the analysis of glass transition temperature, and a unique UCST responsive swelling behavior, which is in contrast to the more prevalent lower critical solution temperature (LCST) behaviour of environmentally responsive hydrogels. The visible-light responsiveness of the synthesized hydrogel also demonstrated a positive swelling behavior, and the effect of incorporating chlorophyllin as the chromophore unit was observed to reduce the average pore size and further enhance the mechanical properties of the hydrogel. This interpenetrating network system shows potential to serve as a new route in developing "smart" hydrogels using visible-light as a simple, inexpensive, and remotely controllable stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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