Abstract: Soft network materials represent a class of emerging cellular materials that have well-organized micro-architectures inspired by network microstructures found in many soft biological tissues. Apart from a good combination of low density, high stretchability and high air permeability, the high degree of design flexibility of soft network materials allows precise customization of mechanical properties by rationally tailoring their microstructural architecture and optimizing selections of constituent materials. These intriguing properties have enabled a range of promising applications in cutting-edge technologies, such as bio-integrated electronics and regenerative medicine. This review summarizes the latest progress in the design and fabrication of soft network materials, as well as their representative applications in biomedical devices, tissue engineering and other areas. It focuses on fundamental principles, design concepts and fabrication techniques of soft network materials that consist of either periodically or randomly distributed microstructures. Rational designs of these soft network materials result in customized mechanical properties that mimic or even exceed those of soft biological tissues. Finally, perspectives on the remaining challenges and open opportunities are provided.

Design, fabrication and applications of soft network materials
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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2021.05.007