Biopolymer based tough and self-recovering ionic-covalent entanglement hydrogels
Emerging applications for hydrogels such as soft robotics and tissue engineering require hydrogels with enhanced mechanical performance. We report the mechanical characteristics of two types of hydrogels: i) ionic-covalent entanglement (ICE) network hydrogels based on calcium cross-linked gellan gum and genipin cross-linked gelatin and ii) ICE microsphere reinforced gelatin hydrogels. This investigation showed that ICE gels can recover up 80% of their mechanical behavior during 5 repeated compressions. In addition, the optimum mechanical performance of gelatin reinforced gels was achieved with inclusion of 40% of ICE microspheres.