The traditional κ-carrageenan (κCG)-based hydrogel obtained from hot water can rupture easily under mechanical loading. To address this vulnerability, here we presented a robust all-κCG hydrogel without employing the second synthetic network. By simply regulating the polymer chains from random coil to stiff chain conformation in NaOH/urea solvent system via the freeze-thawing process, the as-prepared hydrogel with homogeneous structure can display an enhanced stretchability from 42.1 to 156 %, while maintaining the similar fracture stress. Moreover, upon the stepwise mechanical training and subsequent incubation in KCl aqueous solution, more helical segments of κCG were aligned and involved into the association domains, thus leading to the increment in both the crystallinity and anisotropy. Consequently, a fast self-strengthening behavior occurred, and a more stretchable (fracture strain up to 396 %), strong (stress ∼ 0.55 MPa) and tough (∼1.52 MJ m) κCG hydrogel was obtained. In comparison to the traditional one, the fracture strain and toughness are increased by 8.5 and 11.5 times, respectively. In addition, this κCG hydrogel can demonstrate good recovery and shape-memory behaviors under medium deformation. Hence, this tough all-κCG hydrogel is expected to be tailored into the biomaterials as the wearable device, artificial tendon, and cartilage in the future.Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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