DOI: 10.3390/gels10010021 ISSN: 2310-2861

A Sol–Gel Transition and Self-Healing Hydrogel Triggered via Photodimerization of Coumarin

Yong Ye, Wenkai Wang, Xin Liu, Yong Chen, Shenghui Tian, Peng Fu
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering

Reversible chemical covalency provides a path to materials that can degrade and recombine with appropriate stimuli and which can be used for tissue regeneration and repair. However, designing and preparing efficient and quickly self-healing materials has always been a challenge. The preparation strategies of photoresponsive gels attract a lot of attention due to their precise spatial and temporal control and their predetermined response to light stimulation. In this work, the linear copolymer PAC was synthesized via precipitation polymerization of acrylic acid and 7-(2-acrylate-ethoxylated)-4-methylcoumarin. The coumarin groups on the copolymer PAC side chains provide a reversible chemical cross-linking via photostimulation, which achieves reversible regulation of the gel network structure. The concentration of 18 wt% PAC solution produces gelation under irradiation with 365 nm. In contrast, PAC gel is restored to soluble copolymers under irradiation with 254 nm. Meanwhile, the mechanical and self-healing properties of the gel were also explored. It is demonstrated that the cracks of the gel can be repaired simply, quickly, and efficiently. Furthermore, the PAC copolymer shows an excellent adhesion property based on the reversible sol–gel transition. Thus, the PAC gel has considerable potential for applications in engineering and biomedical materials.

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