Finite Element Analysis Guided and Experiment Assisted Design of a Physical Interphase for Enhancing Separation Resistance of Hydrogel-Elastomer Hybrid

Project: Research

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Hydrogel-elastomer hybrid has drawn intensive research and development interests in recent years for its rapidly growing applications. Meanwhile, hydrogel and elastomer have significantly dissimilar physical and chemical properties such that they intended to repel and detach from each other by nature, especially when subjected to mechanical loads. Separation resistance to mechanical loads of most of the current hydrogelelastomer hybrids is far from satisfactory, which hinders the utilization of hydrogelelastomer hybrids in many of the next generation applications.PI’s team has invented a new method to connect hydrogel and elastomer into hybrid structure. The method is purely physical and therefore chemical hazard minimized and not depending on the chemical properties of hydrogel and elastomers. More importantly,the new method was able to enhance separation resistance of the hydrogel-elastomer for several times when comparing to the conventional method. Yet, this method involves fabrication of a 3D knot-like physical interphase whose deformation and fracturebehaviors are complicated. Although PI’s preliminary work has demonstrated the effectiveness of the new method, in-depth understanding on the deformation and fracture mechanisms of the knot-like physical interphase and their impact onenhancing separation resistance of hydrogel-elastomer hybrid are imperative to be obtained.Following research tasks will be carried out by this project in the goal of gaining interactive design guidance of a separation resistant hydrogel-elastomer hybrid knotted by a novel physical interphase. Firstly, hierarchical finite element analysis (FEA) modelswill be constructed to simulate deformation and fracture behaviors of physically knotted hydrogel-elastomer hybrid, and validated by comparing with experimental results. Secondly, validated FEA models will be utilized to optimize architecture of knot-likephysical interphase in the goal of maximizing separation resistance of the hybrid. Thirdly, optimal design achieved through FEA will be examined by fabrication and mechanical tests. This task can provide feedback to the FEA guided design.In summary, this project will conduct comprehensive research that combines computational simulation, 3D printing facilitated materials fabrication and mechanical testing. The long-term goal is to establish a mechanistically determined, computation/modeling guided and experimentally validated framework which can guide the design of next generation failure resistant hybrid structures.


Project number9043025
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/21 → …