Functional Stimuli-Responsive Gels: Hydrogels and Microgels

Echeverria, Coro, Susete N. Fernandes, Maria Helena Godinho, João Borges Borges, and Paula I. P. Soares. "Functional Stimuli-Responsive Gels: Hydrogels and Microgels." Gels 4 (2018): 54.


One strategy that has gained much attention in the last decades is the understanding and further mimicking of structures and behaviours found in nature, as inspiration to develop materials with additional functionalities. This review presents recent advances in stimuli-responsive gels with emphasis on functional hydrogels and microgels. The first part of the review highlights the high impact of stimuli-responsive hydrogels in materials science. From macro to micro scale, the review also collects the most recent studies on the preparation of hybrid polymeric microgels composed of a nanoparticle (able to respond to external stimuli), encapsulated or grown into a stimuli-responsive matrix (microgel). This combination gave rise to interesting multi-responsive functional microgels and paved a new path for the preparation of multi-stimuli “smart” systems. Finally, special attention is focused on a new generation of functional stimuli-responsive polymer hydrogels able to self-shape (shape-memory) and/or self-repair. This last functionality could be considered as the closing loop for smart polymeric gels.

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