Multiscale experimental evaluation of agarose-based semi-interpenetrating polymer network hydrogels as materials with tunable rheological and transport performance
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This study introduces an original concept in the development of hydrogel materials for controlled release of charged organic compounds based on semi-interpenetrating polymer networks composed by an inert gel-forming polymer component and interpenetrating linear polyelectrolyte with specific binding affinity towards the carried active compound. As it is experimentally illustrated on the prototype hydrogels prepared from agarose interpenetrated by poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) and alginate (ALG), respectively, the main benefit brought by this concept is represented by the ability to tune the mechanical and transport performance of the material independently via manipulating the relative content of the two structural components. A unique analytical methodology is proposed to provide complex insight into composition–structure– performance relationships in the hydrogel material combining methods of analysis on the macroscopic scale, but also in the specific microcosms of the gel network. Rheological analysis has confirmed that the complex modulus of the gels can be adjusted in a wide range by the gelling component (agarose) with negligible effect of the interpenetrating component (PSS or ALG). On the other hand, the content of PSS as low as 0.01 wt.% of the gel resulted in a more than 10-fold decrease of diffusivity of model-charged organic solute (Rhodamine 6G).
Keywordshydrogels, semi-interpenetrating polymer networks, controlled release systems, rheology, diffusion, cryo-scanning electron microscopy
Document typePeer reviewed
Document versionFinal PDF
SourcePolymers. 2020, vol. 12, issue 11, p. 1-25.