A convenient and minimally-invasive method to study gel formation by surface tension measurements
W.Y. Seow and C.A.E. Hauser
Journal of Chemical Science and Technology, 2 (2013) 88-92
Hydrogels provide a three-dimensional polymeric network and are useful as matrices for the delivery of therapeutics or as scaffolds for tissue engineering. However, the sol-gel transition of hydrogels can be difficult to quantify and methods commonly used to study gelation kinetics such as visual inspection, rheology or light scattering have their limitations. Using polyacrylamide, gelatin and poly (hydroxyethyl) methacrylate gels as model systems, we now show that the surface tension of a gelling system can be used to monitor its transition from an initially free-flowing solution state into a gel capable of supporting its own weight in an inverted container. This method is automated, minimally-invasive and samples can be easily recovered after measurements. It can potentially be applied to other gel systems to provide a rapid, simple and objective comparison of gelation kinetics.
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