Modulating stiffness with photo-switchable supramolecular hydrogels

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Tabet, Anthony 
Forster, R 
Parkins, CC 
Scherman, OA 

Stimuli-responsive hydrogels are attractive materials with many applications towards biomedicine,biology, construction, and manufacturing. Materials that can be cured or annealed rapidly at room temperature are of particular interest. In this work we develop a class of supramolecular coumarin-functionalised hydrogels formedviahost-guest mediated self-assembly with cucurbit[8]uril thatcan photo-switch to covalent gels and reversibly toggle between the two states. A principle ad-vantage of such materials is their ability to maintain a homogeneous chemical composition and crosslink density while selectively modulating stiffness with light. An investigation of the photo-reversibility of these functional materials elucidated that hydroxyethyl cellulose-coumarin based gels were soft and could only switch from a physical state to a covalent one, while hyaluronic acid-coumarin based gels were softer and could be photo-reversed back into a physical state after covalent curing.

3403 Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry, 40 Engineering, 3405 Organic Chemistry, 34 Chemical Sciences
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Polymer Chemistry
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Royal Society of Chemistry
Leverhulme Trust (RP2013-SL-008)
EPSRC (1652502)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L027151/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K028510/1)
A.T. acknowledges The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. R.A.F. acknowledges the Cambridge Commonwealth European and International Trust. C.C.P. acknowledges the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. G.W. acknowledges the Leverhulme Trust