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Keywords:

  • biological applications of polymers;
  • crosslinking;
  • drug delivery systems;
  • electron microscopy;
  • FTIR

Abstract

Therapeutic agents or agricultural fertilizers captured in polymer colloids (PCs) give rise to interesting applications, which are typically related to sustained release. We synthesized crosslinked polymer structures with poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and borax precursors. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed that a polymer–boron ion complex was formed with the crosslinking reaction at the O[BOND]H site of PVA; thereby, PCs were formed. Field-emission scanning electron microscopy showed that a uniform mesoporous two-dimensional structure formed via intermolecular and intramolecular crosslinking. Trypsin enzyme and phosphate fertilizer were trapped in these PCs independently to study sustained release. Fertilizer-incorporated PCs were mixed with soil samples, in which seeds of fenugreek were sown, and the plant growth was monitored a duration of 15 days. The fertilizer release, studied with UV–visible spectroscopy, showed a sustained signature of the fertilizer (at 690 nm) in the water extracts of soil, with much healthier plant growth compared to the control. For the trypsin-incorporated PC samples, the released enzyme was made to interact with bovine serum albumin protein to monitor the released percentage with UV absorption spectroscopy. A systematic increase in the enzyme signature (at 280 nm) was observed for a duration of 60 min; this indicated the potential of PC for sustained drug release. The swelling calculations predicted that the mechanism involved was composed of pseudo-swelling behavior. We envisaged that the hydroxyl groups of the PC broke in water and formed a complex with water. This complex slowly dissolved in water to release the entrapped molecules. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011