(718b) Detecting Bond Breakage and Fracture in Tough Hydrogels | AIChE

(718b) Detecting Bond Breakage and Fracture in Tough Hydrogels


Sanoja, G. E. - Presenter, UC Santa Barbara
Creton, C., ESPCI ParisTech

hydrogels are
soft materials composed of three-dimensional polymer networks swollen with
water. They are promising synthetic analogues of tissues but their excessive
brittleness remains an important performance limitation. Although there have
been advances in the design[1]–[3] and
characterization[4] of polymer
networks with a range of structures and topologies that provide hydrogels with
remarkable properties (e.g., high toughness and self-healing), it is not yet
possible to quantitatively predict toughness from molecular design. A promising
strategy to gain molecular insight on bond scission in polymers prior to
failure is the incorporation of mechanoluminescent cross-linkers.[5] Upon
force-induced bond breakage, emission of visible light allows for
spatio-temporal mapping of molecular bond breaking during crack propagation. 
Despite recent demonstrations in elastomers, no mechanophore has been
successfully incorporated in a hydrogel to visualize bond scission upon
deformation, yield, and fracture.

We have synthesized and incorporated a water-soluble
mechanoluminescent probe based on bis(adamantyl)-1,2-dioxetane into a model
double-network hydrogel composed of stiff
poly(2-acrylamido-2-methylpropanesulfonic acid) and soft poly(acrylamide). Due
to the low quantum yield of the emitter ketone resulting from force-induced
ring-opening, we explored a range of FRET agents to detect covalent bond
scission during deformation. This information serves not only to establish a
direct relation between polymer network structure and hydrogel fracture energy,
but also to develop new multi-scale physical models of macroscopic fracture of
soft materials.

Figure 1: Real-time mapping of covalent bond
scission during compression using mechanoluminescent probes. (A) Schematic of the light emission
obtained during compression of a double-network hydrogel containing
mechanoluminescent cross-linkers.  (B) Mechanoluminescent reaction where
force-induced bon breakage of a 1,2-dioxetane cross-linker results in light



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