Ultra-High Modulus Hydrogels Mimicking Cartilage of the Human Body. Academic Article uri icon


  • The human body is comprised of numerous types of cartilage with a range of high moduli, despite their high hydration. Owing to the limitations of cartilage tissue healing and biological grafting procedures, synthetic replacements have emerged but are limited by poorly matched moduli. While conventional hydrogels can achieve similar hydration to cartilage tissues, their moduli are substantially inferior. Herein, triple network (TN) hydrogels are prepared to synergistically leverage intra-network electrostatic repulsive and hydrophobic interactions, as well as inter-network electrostatic attractive interactions. They are comprised of an anionic 1st network, a neutral 2nd network (capable of hydrophobic associations), and a cationic 3rd network. Collectively, these interactions act synergistically as effective, yet dynamic crosslinks. By tuning the concentration of the cationic 3rd network, these TN hydrogels achieve high moduli of 1.5 to 3.5MPa without diminishing cartilage-like water contents (80%), strengths, or toughness values. This unprecedented combination of properties poises these TN hydrogels as cartilage substitutes in applications spanning articulating joints, intervertebral discs (IVDs), trachea, and temporomandibular joint disc (TMJ).

published proceedings

  • Macromol Biosci

altmetric score

  • 2.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Demott, C. J., Jones, M. R., Chesney, C. D., Yeisley, D. J., Culibrk, R. A., Hahn, M. S., & Grunlan, M. A.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Demott, Connor J||Jones, McKenzie R||Chesney, Caleb D||Yeisley, Daniel J||Culibrk, Robert A||Hahn, Mariah S||Grunlan, Melissa A

publication date

  • January 2022