Gels. 2022 May 1;8(5):280. doi: 10.3390/gels8050280.
Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) based electrically conductive hydrogels (PNIPAM-ECHs) have been extensively studied in recent decades due to their thermal-responsive (leading to the volume change of hydrogels) and electrically conductive performance. The incorporation of conductive components into the PNIPAM hydrogel network makes it become conductive hydrogel, and as a result, the PNIPAM hydrogel could become sensitive to an electrical signal, greatly expanding its application. In addition, conductive components usually bring new stimuli-responsive properties of PNIPAM-based hydrogels, such as near-infrared light and stress/strain responsive properties. PNIPAM-ECHs display a wide range of applications in human motion detection, actuators, controlled drug release, wound dressings, etc. To summarize recent research advances and achievements related to PNIPAM-ECHs, this manuscript first reviews the design and structure of representative PNIPAM-ECHs according to their conductive components. Then, the applications of PNIPAM-ECHs have been classified and discussed. Finally, the remaining problems related to PNIPAM-ECHs have been summarized and a future research direction is proposed which is to fabricate PNIPAM-ECHs with integrated multifunctionality.