Ionogels are compelling materials for technological devices due to their excellent ionic conductivity, thermal and electrochemical stability, and non-volatility. However, most existing ionogels suffer from low strength and toughness. Here, we report a simple one-step method to achieve ultra-tough and stretchable ionogels by randomly copolymerizing two common monomers with distinct solubility of the corresponding polymers in an ionic liquid. Copolymerization of acrylamide and acrylic acid in 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethyl sulfate results in a macroscopically homogeneous covalent network with in situ phase separation: a polymer-rich phase with hydrogen bonds that dissipate energy and toughen the ionogel; and an elastic solvent-rich phase that enables for large strain. These ionogels have high fracture strength (12.6 MPa), fracture energy (~24 kJ m−2) and Young’s modulus (46.5 MPa), while being highly stretchable (~600% strain) and having self-healing and shape-memory properties. This concept can be applied to other monomers and ionic liquids, offering a promising way to tune ionogel microstructure and properties in situ during one-step polymerization.
- Soft materials
- Structural materials