Synthesis, characterization, and swelling responses of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)- and hydroxypropyl cellulose-based environmentally sensitive biphasic hydrogels



Thermosensitive networks based on hydroxypropyl cellulose and N-isopropylacrylamide crosslinked with N,N-methylene bisacrylamide were synthesized by a simultaneous gamma radiation technique. The network yield was optimized by the variation of reaction parameters such as the total radiation dose, concentration of crosslinker and monomer, and amount of water. The hydrogels had a biphasic structure and good mechanical strength, even in the fully swollen state, and could be synthesized in any shape and size. Volume transitions as a function of time and temperature were studied for these hydrogels in water, and the effects on swelling in different media such as 0.5N NaOH, 0.5N HCl, and 5% NaCl at the optimum time and temperature were also studied. The response of the hydrogels to these diverse changes in the swelling media was observed, and the volume transitions due to environmental changes in the hydrogels were not sharp and discontinuous as a maximum volume collapse occurred at a temperature higher than the reported lower critical solution temperature of 32.5°C for N-isopropylacrylamide. These hydrogels were environmentally sensitive and responded to changes in their thermal and ionic environment and have potential applications in diverse fields such as drug delivery, enzyme technology, and environmental management. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 91: 479–488, 2004