Hydrogels based on agarose were prepared aiming to obtain flexible, firm and transparent materials suitable for biochemical applications. The kinetics of gelation were studied by means of rheology. Agarose was chemically modified by introduction of methacrylate side-groups. The latter can be crosslinked to result in a network structure. The gel formation of the modified agarose is a combinatioin of physical gelation and chemical crosslinkage. The water-soluble agarose obtained after derivatization was crosslinked by UV-irradiation in the presence of a water soluble photoinitiator. The effect of storage time before chemical crosslinking has been examined and has a large influence on the final storage modulus and the contribution of the chemical and physical network strength towards the total network strength. The influence of the degree of modification on the final mechanical properties of the material has been examined by texturometry.
© 2002 Society of Chemical Industry