Rapidly aging societies, demands for improved organ functions and repair of damaged tissues has led to the use of synthetic materials in different parts of the human body. Traditional covalent chemistry has served us well in terms of the design of materials. The future of soft biomaterials demands ease of synthesis, multi-functionality and efficacy. Supramolecular hydrogels are part of the next-generation of materials to enter the biomedical arena. These materials are three-dimensional entities built from crosslinking agents which bond non-covalently (via hydrogen bonds, p–p stacking and van der Waals interactions) to produce fibers and crosslinking among fibers. The properties of these materials are vastly different from their covalent counterparts and the exciting developments are summarized in this review.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2014.04.004