Reconfiguring Hydrogels by Switching Crosslinks

In order for biological systems to grow, heal and adapt they must be able to dynamically reconfigure.  Using biology as a model, we created a hydrogel with reversibly reconfigurable mechanical properties based on the switching between two physical crosslinking mechanisms.  Specifically, we used the renewable  aminopolysaccharide  chitosan and  switched this hydrogel  between  an  elastic  crystalline  network  and  a viscoelastic electroastatically crosslinked network.


The generation of this reconfigurable hydrogel  couples the bottom-up  self-assembling  properties  from  biology  with  the top-down fabrication properties of electrofabrication and 3D printing.


The ability to create dynamically reconfigurable hydrogels with  controlled  structure  and  properties  should    offer important capabilities for emerging life sciences applications in fields that range from regenerative medicine to molecular communication.

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