Nature uses supramolecular interactions and hierarchical structures to produce water-rich materials with combinations of properties that are challenging to obtain in synthetic systems. Here, we demonstrate hierarchical supramolecular hydrogels from electrospun, self-associated copolymers with unprecedented elongation and toughness for high porosity hydrogels. Hydrophobic association of perfluoronated comonomers provides the physical cross-links for these hydrogels based on copolymers of dimethyl acrylamide and 2-(N-ethylperfluorooctane sulfonamido)ethyl methacrylate (FOSM). Intriguingly, the hydrogel fiber mats show an enhancement in toughness in comparison to compression molded bulk hydrogels. This difference is attributed to the size distribution of the hydrophobic aggregates where narrowing the distribution in the electrospun material enhances the toughness of the hydrogel. These hydrogel fiber mats exhibit extensibility more than double that of the bulk hydrogel and a comparable modulus despite the porosity of the fiber mat leading to >25 wt % increase in water content.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)