Polymer gel with a flexible and highly ordered three-dimensional network synthesized via bond percolation

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Science Advances  06 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaax8647
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8647


Gels are a soft elastic material consisting of a three-dimensional polymer network with nanometer-sized pores and are used in a variety of applications. However, gel networks typically have a substantial level of defects because the network formation reaction proceeds stochastically. In this study, we present a general scheme to fabricate gels with extremely low levels of defects by applying geometric constraints into pregel solution based on the “bond percolation” concept. In the formed gel, stationary laser speckles, which are an indicator of spatial defects, were not observed at all. In addition, we found that the concentration fluctuations of the polymer chains were ergodic across the whole gel network. In such a homogeneous gel, both the spatial and temporal correlations of polymer chains are the same before and after gelation.

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