• Swelling–deswelling behavior;
  • poly(acrylamide-co-maleic acid) hydrogels


In this study the poly(acrylamide-co-maleic acid) hydrogels containing small amounts of maleic acid have been synthesized, and the effect of pH, ionic strength, and nature of counterions on the equilibrium water uptake has been investigated. The incorporation of small amount of maleic acid results in the transition of swelling mechanism from Fickian to non-Fickian. The equilibrium mass swelling has been found to increase with pH of the swelling medium while increase in ionic strength causes a decrease in the swelling. The amount of maleic acid present in the hydrogel affects the swelling behavior in rather an unusual way. With lower acid contents, the equilibrium mass swelling increases while higher concentrations of maleic acid cause a decrease in the degree of swelling. The hydrogels have been found to undergo a number of swelling–deswelling cycles when pH of the swelling medium changes from 8.0 to 2.0. Hydrogels require more time to deswell compared to the time required for swelling, which has been explained on the basis of the fact that gels follow different mechanisms for the two processes. Various swelling parameters such as equilibrium mass swelling, diffusion coefficient, intrinsic diffusion coefficient, swelling exponent, etc., have been evaluated. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 80: 2782–2789, 2001