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Keywords:

  • Glycerol;
  • Hydrogel;
  • pH-responsive;
  • Polyglycerol;
  • Temperature-responsive

Abstract

Temperature and pH-responsive polyglycerol-based hydrogels were successfully synthesized and characterized. An increase in polyglycerol molecular weight was achieved by cross-linking polyglycerol using multifunctional electrophilic epoxide-containing compounds. The chemical structure of polyglycerol-based hydrogels was determined by FTIR spectroscopy. The temperature-dependent swelling behavior of the hydrogels was studied at 293, 310, 333, and 353 K and a negative temperature-sensitive system was observed. The hydrogels exhibited pH sensitivity at pH 4, 7, and 10. The hydrophilicity and biocompatibility of these hydrogels make them suitable for pharmaceutical, biomedical, and biotechnological applications. They could potentially serve as a replacement for fossil-based poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogels.

Practical applications: Polyglycerol produced from glycerol consists of an inert polyether backbone with functional hydroxyl side groups which make it very suitable for the design of hydrogels. The structure of this biocompatible hydrogel resembles well-known fossil-based hydrogels poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH). Polyglycerol-based hydrogel is suitable for applications in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, and biotechnological fields as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and hydrogel adhesives for wound dressing. Furthermore, since these hydrogels show relatively high swelling ratios, they can be used as moisture absorbents and solvent dryers.