Researchers at the National Institute for Material Sciences have formed highly stretchable and self-healing polymer gels solely by physical entanglements of ultrahigh–molecular weight (UHMW) polymers fabricated through a facile one-step process. Radical polymerization of vinyl monomers in ionic liquids under very low initiator concentration conditions produced UHMW polymers of more than 106 g/mol with nearly 100% yield, resulting in the formation of physically entangled transparent polymer gels. The UHMW gels showed excellent properties, such as high stretchability, high ionic conductivity, and recyclability. Furthermore, the UHMW gel exhibited room temperature self-healing ability without any external stimuli.
Stretchable and self-healing polymer gels formed by a facile one-step synthesis