Solvent-Exchange-Assisted Wet Annealing: A New Strategy for Superstrong, Tough, Stretchable, and Anti-Fatigue Hydrogels

Yongchuan Wu, Ya Zhang, Haidi Wu, Jing Wen, Shu Zhang, Wenqian Xing, Hechuan Zhang, Huaiguo Xue, Jiefeng Gao, Yiuwing Mai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogels are widely used in tissue engineering, soft robots, wearable electronics, etc. However, it remains a great challenge to develop hydrogels possessing simultaneously high strength, large stretchability, great fracture energy, and good fatigue threshold to suit different applications. Herein, a novel solvent-exchange-assisted wet-annealing strategy is proposed to prepare high performance poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogels by extensively tuning the macromolecular chain movement and optimizing the polymer network. The reinforcing and toughening mechanisms are found to be “macromolecule crystallization and entanglement”. These hydrogels have large tensile strengths up to 11.19 ± 0.27 MPa and extremely high fracture strains of 1879 ± 10%. In addition, the fracture energy and fatigue threshold can reach as high as 25.39 ± 6.64 kJ m−2 and ≈1233 J m−2, respectively. These superb mechanical properties compare favorably to those of other tough hydrogels, organogels, and even natural tendons and synthetic rubbers. This work provides a new and effective method to fabricate superstrong, tough, stretchable, and anti-fatigue hydrogels with potential applications in artificial tendons and ligaments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2210624
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • anti-fatigue performance
  • hydrogel
  • mechanical properties
  • solvent exchange
  • wet annealing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Solvent-Exchange-Assisted Wet Annealing: A New Strategy for Superstrong, Tough, Stretchable, and Anti-Fatigue Hydrogels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this