Electrically conductive, mechanically tough hydrogels based on a double network (DN) comprised of poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PPEGMA) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) were produced. Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) was chemically polymerized within the tough DN gel to provide electronic conductivity. The effects of pH on the tensile and compressive mechanical properties of the fully swollen hydrogels, along with their electrical conductivity and swelling ratio were determined. Compressive and tensile strengths as high as 11.6 and 0.6 MPa, respectively, were obtained for hydrogels containing PEDOT with a maximum conductivity of 4.3 S cm-1. This conductivity is the highest yet reported for hydrogel materials of high swelling ratios. These hydrogels may be useful as soft strain sensors because their electrical resistance changed significantly when cyclically loaded in compression.
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