GONG Jian PingProfessor

Laboratory of Soft & Wet Matter
Research Theme
Creation of Functional Polymer Gels as Biomaterials
Research Keywords

Soft matter, Soft materials, Polymer gels, Mechanical strength, Toughness, Fracture, Friction, Lubrication, Artificial cartilage, Cell Scaffold, Biomaterials

Overview of Research

Besides bones, tooth, and nails, the human body consists of soft tissues. The dynamic functions of the human body are mostly realized by these soft tissues. For example, muscles generate force to move bones, tendons transfer force from muscle to bone, and cartilage absorbs the shock and reduces the friction of bone motion. These soft tissues, consisting of biopolymers (DNA, proteins, polysaccharides) and 30-80% water, belong to a category of substances called Soft & Wet Matter. The mechanisms of why soft tissues are able to exhibit such excellent functions are not understood yet, but it is considered to originate from their soft & wet nature.

A hydrogel, consisting of cross-linked macromolecules and water, is also soft & wet matter. My research goal is to unravel the secrets of soft tissues, creating hydrogels with soft tissue-like functions, and applying these hydrogels as artificial soft tissues, such as cartilage, tendon, and muscles.

Our strategy is as follows: 1) design the hydrogel by extracting the structural essences of the soft tissue using physical principles; 2) synthesize hydrogels with soft tissue-like structure using chemical approaches; and 3) investigate the functions of hydrogels thus obtained and understand the mechanisms of soft tissues by comparing these hydrogels with real soft-tissues.



The science of Soft & Wet Matter is a new interdisciplinary area that covers chemistry, physics, biology, and materials sciences. Students who are interested in unraveling the secrets of bio-tissues, in the creation of hydrogels with bio-tissue like functions, and in applying these hydrogels in medical sciences are welcome.

Representative Publications

Original papers

  1. J. P. Gong, Y. Katsuyama, T. Kurokawa, Y. Osada, “Double Network Hydrogels with Extremely High Mechanical Strength”, Advanced Materials, 15, 1155-1158 (2003). (top 1% paper)
  2. Md. A. Haque, G. Kamita, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “Unidirectional Alignment of Lamellar Bilayer in Hydrogel: One-Dimensional Swelling, Anisotropic Modulus, and Stress/Strain Tunable Structural Color”, Advanced Materials, 22, 5110-5114 (2010).
  3. Md. A. Haque, T. Kurokawa, G. Kamita, J. P. Gong, “Lamellar Bilayers as Reversible Sacrificial Bonds To Toughen Hydrogel: Hysteresis, Self-Recovery, Fatigue Resistance, and Crack Blunting “, Macromolecules, 44, 8916-8924 (2011).
  4. T. L. Sun, T. Kurokawa, S. Kuroda, A. B. Ihsan, T. Akasaki, K. Sato, M. A. Haque, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong “Physical hydrogels composed of polyampholytes demonstrate high toughness and viscoelasticity”, Nature Materials, 12, 932-937 (2013). (top 1% paper)
  5. F. Luo, T. L. Sun, T. Nakajima, T. Kurokawa, Y. Zhao, K. Sato, A. B. Ihsan, X. F. Li, H. L. Guo, J. P. Gong, “Oppositely Charged Polyelectrolytes Form Tough, Self-healing and Rebuildable Hydrogels”, Advanced Materials, 27, 2722-2727 (2015). (top 1% paper)
  6. H. J. Zhang, T. L. Sun, A. K. Zhang, Y. Ikura, T. Nakajima, T. Nonoyama, T. Kurokawa, O. Ito, H. Ishitobi, J. P. Gong, “Tough Physical Double-Network Hydrogels Based on Amphiphilic Triblock Copolymers,” Advanced Materials, 28, 4884-4890 (2016). (top 1% paper)
  7. T. Matsuda, T. Nakajima, Y. Fukuda, W. Hong, T. Sakai, T. Kurokawa, U. Chung, J. P. Gong, Yielding Criteria of Double Network Hydrogels, Macromolecules, 49(5), 1865-1872 (2016).
  8. T. L. Sun, F. Luo, W. Hong, K. Cui, Y. Huang, H. Zhang, D. R. King, T. Kurokawa, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, Bulk Energy Dissipation Mechanism for the Fracture of Tough and Self-Healing Hydrogels, Macromolecules, 50(7), 2923-2931 (2017).
  9. K. Cui, T. L. Sun, X. Liang, K. Nakajima, Y. N. Ye, L. Chen, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, Multiscale Energy Dissipation Mechanism in Tough and Self-Healing Hydrogels, Physical Review Letters (2018).
  10. P. Rao, T. L. Sun, L. Chen, R. Takahashi, G. Shinohara, H. Guo, D. R. King, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, Tough Hydrogels with Fast, Strong, and Reversible Underwater Adhesion Based on a Multi-Scale Design, Advanced Materials, 30(32), 1801884 (2018).
  11. T. I. Mredha, T. Nonoyama, T. Nakajima, Y. Z. Guo, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “A Facile Method to Fabricate Anisotropic Hydrogels with Perfectly Aligned Hierarchical Fibrous Structures”, Advanced Materials, 30(9), 1704937 (2018).
  12. R. Takahashi, T. L. Sun, Y. Saruwatari, T. Kurokawa, D. R. King, J. P. Gong, “Creating Stiff, Tough, and Functional Hydrogel Composites with Low Melting Point Alloys”, Advanced Materials, 30, 1706885 (2018).
  13. H. Guo, T. Nakajima, D. Hourdet, A. Marcellan, C. Creton, W. Hong, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, Hydrophobic Hydrogels with Fruit-Like Structure and Functions, Advanced Materials, 31(25), 1900702 (2019)
  14. H. Fan, J. Wang, Z. Tao, J. Huang, P. Rao, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “Adjacent Cationic-Aromatic Sequences Yield Strong Electrostatic Adhesion of Hydrogels in Seawater”, Nature Communications, 10, 5127 (2019).
  15. T. Matsuda, R. Kawakami, R. Namba, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, “Mechanoresponsive Self-growing Hydrogels Inspired by Muscle Training”, Science, 363, 504-508 (2019). (top 1% paper)
  16. X. Li, K. Cui, T. L. Sun, L. Meng, C. Yu, L. Li, C. Creton, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, Mesoscale Bicontinuous Networks in Self-healing Hydrogels Delay Fatigue Fracture, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 117(14), 7606-7612 (2020)
  17. T. Nonoyama, Y. W. Lee, K. Ota, K. Fujioka, W. Hong, J. P. Gong, Instant Thermal Switching from Soft Hydrogel to Rigid Plastics Inspired by Thermophile Proteins, Advanced Materials, 32(4), 1905878 (2020).
  18. W. Cui, D. R. King, Y. Huang, L. Chen, T. L. Sun, Y. Guo, Y. Saruwatari, C.-Y. Hui, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, Fiber‐Reinforced Viscoelastomers Show Extraordinary Crack Resistance That Exceeds Metals, Advanced Materials, 32(31), 1907180 (2020)
  19. T. Matsuda, R. Kawakami, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, “Crack Tip Field of a Double-Network Gel: Visualization of Covalent Bond Scission through Mechanoradical Polymerization”, Macromolecules, 53, 5787-8795 (2020).
  20. C. Yu, H. Guo, K. Cui, X. Li, Y. N. Ye, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “Hydrogels as Dynamic Memory with Forgetting Ability,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 117(32), 18962-18968 (2020).
  21. Y. N. Ye, K. Cui, W. Hong, X. Li, Ch. Yu, D. Hourdet, T. Nakajima, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “Molecular Mechanism of Abnormally Large Nonsoftening Deformation in a Tough Hydrogel”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 118, e2014694118 (2021).
  22. X. Li, K. Cui, T. Kurokawa, Y. N. Ye, T. L. Sun, C. Yu, C. Creton, J. P. Gong, “Effect of Mesoscale Phase Contrast on Fatigue-Delaying Behavior of Self-Healing Hydrogels”, Science Advances, 7, eabe8210 (2021).
  23. Z. Wang, X. Zheng, T. Ouchi, T. B. Kouznetsova, H. K. Beech, S. Av-Ron, T. Matsuda, B. H. Bowser, S. Wang, J. A. Johnson, J. A. Kalow, B. D. Olsen, J. P. Gong, M. Rubinstein, S. L. Craig, “Toughening hydrogels through force-triggered chemical reactions that lengthen polymer strands,” Science, 374, 193-196 (2021).
  24. X. Y. Li, J. P. Gong, “Role of Dynamic Bonds on Fatigue Threshold of Tough Hydrogels,” PNAS, 119(20), e2200678119 (2022).
  25. Z. J. Wang, J. Jiang, Q. Mu, S. Maeda, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, “Azo-Crosslinked Double-Network Hydrogels Enabling Highly Efficient Mechanoradical Generation,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 144, 7, 3154–3161(2022).
  26. Q.-F. Mu, K.-P. Cui, Z. J. Wang, T. Matsuda, W. Cui, H. Kato, S. Namiki, T. Yamazaki, M. Frauenlob, T. Nonoyama, M. Tsuda, S. Tanaka, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, “Force-triggered rapid microstructure growth on hydrogel surface for on-demand functions,” Nature Communications, 13, Article number: 6213 (2022).
  27. R. Kiyama, M. Yoshida, T. Nonoyama, T. Sedlačík, H. Jinnai, T. Kurokawa, T. Nakajima, J. P. Gong, “Nanoscale TEM Imaging of Hydrogel Network Architecture,” Advanced Materials, 35(1), 2208902 (2023).
  28. Gumi Wei, Yumeko Kudo, Takahiro Matsuda, Zhi Jian Wang, Qi Feng Mu, Daniel R. King, Tasuku Nakajima, Jian Ping Gong, “Sustainable mechanochemical growth of double-network hydrogels supported by vascular-like perfusion”, Materials Horizons, 2023,10, 4882-4891(2023).
  29. Xueyu Li, Kunpeng Cui, Yong Zheng, Ya Nan Ye, Chengtao Yu, Wenqi Yang, Tasuku Nakajima, Jian Ping Gong, “Role of hierarchy structure on the mechanical adaptation of self-healing hydrogels under cyclic stretching”, Science Advances, 9, 51 (2023).
  30. Yiran Li, Bin Xue, Jiahui Yang, Julong Jiang, Jing Liu, Yanyan Zhou, Junsheng Zhang, Mengjiao Wu, Yuan Yuan, Zhenshu Zhu, Zhi Jian Wang, Yulan Chen, Yu Harabuchi, Tasuku Nakajima, Wei Wang, Satoshi Maeda, Jian Ping Gong, Yi Cao, “Azobenzene as a photoswitchable mechanophore,” Nature Chemistry, 16, 446–455 (2023).

Review papers

  1. J. P. Gong, “Why are double network hydrogels so tough?” Soft Matter, 6, 2583-2590 (2010). (top 1% paper)
  2. Md. A. Haque, T. Kurokawa, J. P. Gong, “Super tough double network hydrogels and their application as biomaterials”, Polymer, 53(9), 1805-1822 (2012). (top 1% paper)
  3. J. P. Gong, “Materials both Tough and Soft”, Science, 344, 161-162 (2014). (top 1% paper)
  4. H. L. Fan, J. P. Gong, “Fabrication of Bioinspired Hydrogels: Challenges and Opportunities,” Macromolecules, 53(8), 2769-2782 (2020). (top 1% paper)
  5. H. L. Fan, J. P. Gong, “Bioinspired Underwater Adhesives”, Advanced Materials, 33(44), 2102983 (2021). (top 1% paper)
  6. R. Long, C.-Y. Hui, J. P. Gong, E. Bouchbinder, “The Fracture of Highly Deformable Soft Materials: A Tale of Two Length Scales”, Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics, 12(1), 71-94 (2021). (top 1% paper)


<Office Hour>
– Time: Anytime during the lecture period
– Place: Frontier-AMLS, 4F
Please contact in advance by E-mail.
E-mail: gong[at]