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Microgel-Modified Bilayered Hydrogels Dramatically Boosting Load-Bearing and Lubrication.

Hydrogel-based articular cartilage replacement materials are promising candidates for their potential to provide both high load-bearing capacity and low friction performance, similar to natural cartilage. Nevertheless, the design of these materials presents a significant challenge in reconciling the conflicting demands of the load-bearing capacity and lubrication. Despite extensive research in this area, there is still room for improvement in the creation of hydrogel-based materials that effectively meet these demands. Herein, a facile strategy is provided to realize simultaneously high load-bearing and low friction properties on the proposed hydrogel by modifying the surface of mechanically strong annealled PVA-PAAc hydrogel with a high hydration potential PAAm-co-PAMPS microgel. Consequently, a bilayer hydrogel with a porous surface and a compact substrate has been obtained. Compressive experiments confirmed that the bilayer hydrogel exhibited excellent mechanical strength with a compressive strength of 32.23 MPa at 90% strain. A high load-bearing (applied load up to 30 N), extremely low friction coefficiency (0.01-0.05) and excellent wear resistance (COF low to 0.03 after a 4 h test at 10 N using a steel ball as the contact pair) are successfully achieved. These findings provide new perspectives for the design of articular cartilage materials.

Dynamic Cross-Linked Polyethylene Networks with High Energy Storage and Electrical Damage Self-Healability.

Dielectric polymers that exhibit high energy density Ue, low dielectric loss, and thermal resistance are ideal materials for next-generation electrical equipment. The most widely utilized approach to improving Ue involves augmenting the polarization through increasing the dielectric constant εr or the breakdown strength Eb. However, as a conflicting parameter, the dielectric loss also increases inevitably at the same time. In addition, due to the long-term work under a strong electric field or high potential, dielectric materials often produce electrical damage (electrical tree), which is one of the main factors affecting the reliability and service life of electrical equipment. To address these problems, we herein develop dynamic cross-linked polyethylene materials (PE-MA-Epo) by polyethylene-graft-maleic anhydride (PE-MA) and polar epoxy monomers, which showed high εr (>7), low dielectric loss (<0.02), high Ue (5.16 J/cm3 at 425 MV/m), and outstanding discharge efficiency (97%). The performances of the materials are adequate to rival biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films. Moreover, the excellent self-healing capability of PE-MA-Epo enables the total recovery of εr and tan δ after electrical tree healing. After two cycles of electrical breakdown healing, Eb remained at 80%, which improves the durability and reliability of dielectric polymers. Therefore, PE-MA-Epo shows great potential for applications in advanced electronic power devices.