Molecular movements of trehalose inside a single network enabling a rapidly-recoverable tough hydrogel

Xiaowen Huang, Jimin Fu, Huiyan Tan, Yan Miu, Mengda Xu, Qiuhua Zhao, Yujie Xie, Shengtong Sun, Haimin Yao, Lidong Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


It remains a challenge to achieve rapidly recoverable hydrogels by molecular hydrogen-bonding interaction because of its slow interaction kinetics. This work for the first time reports a trehalose (Tre)-based molecular movement mechanism inside a single network of polyacrylamide (PAM) that accelerates the kinetics of hydrogen-bonding interaction, and thereby endows the hydrogel with high toughness and rapid shape and mechanical recoverability. The resultant PAM@Tre hydrogel is capable of full shape recovery after 10,000 loading/unloading cycles at a strain of 500%. Even after being stretched at a strain of 2500%, it can recover to its original shape within 10 seconds. Moreover, the molecular movement of trehalose also endows the PAM@Tre hydrogel with fracture energy and toughness as high as ~9000 J m–2 and ~1600 kJ m–3, respectively, leading to strong resistance to both static and dynamic piercing. The PAM@Tre hydrogel is thus believed to have enormous potentials in protection devices, bionic skin, soft actuator, and stretchable electronics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-596
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Smart and Nano Materials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • highly recoverable tough hydrogels
  • molecular dynamics simulation
  • molecular motility
  • puncture resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials


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