Polycarpos Pissis and Apostolos Kyritsis Hydration studies in polymer hydrogels Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics 51
Hydrogels are polymer networks that swell rather than dissolve in water because of their crosslinking, ideal for applications in biotechnology and medicine. Hydration studies on hydrogels are reviewed, using poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate) (PHEA) as a model system. The focus is on the organization of water in the hydrogel and the impact on the properties of the polymer matrix—essential to engineer properties for applications. The figure shows plasticization of glass transition and the α-relaxation in PHEA with increasing water fraction, and for comparison in a protein (BSA) and an organogel (PEA + p-xylene). The general trend is similar in the three systems, however, distinct differences can be observed.
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