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Keywords:

  • hydrogels;
  • water in poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate);
  • dielectric relaxation;
  • thermally stimulated depolarization currents (TSDC);
  • glass transition;
  • space charge polarization

Abstract

Detailed investigations on the dielectric relaxation mechanisms in poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate) (PHEA), by means of the thermally stimulated depolarization currents (TSDC) method in the temperature range 77-300 K are reported. There is particular interest in the dependence of the dielectric relaxation mechanisms on the water content h, h = 0 − 0.5 w/w, in an attempt to contribute to a better understanding of the physical structure of water in the PHEA hydrogels. We employ thermal sampling (TS) and partial heating (PH) techniques to experimentally analyze the observed complex relaxation processes, due to the secondary (βsw) and the main (α) relaxation, into approximately single responses and to determine the spectra of activation energies E(T) at different h values. Measurements with different electrode configurations reveal different aspects of the dynamics of the relaxation mechanisms and allow the distinction between dipolar and conductivity relaxation contributions. It is shown that by means of these techniques we can determine certain temperature characteristics for the α relaxation and investigate their dependence on water content. We discuss the relation of these characteristic temperatures to the calorimetric glass transition temperature Tg. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.