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Gels, Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Calcium-dependent RTX domains fold into β-roll domains. The surface-exposed amino acids projecting [...] Read more.
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Diffusion-Reaction Model for Predicting Enzyme-Mediated Dynamic Hydrogel Stiffening
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 6 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
Hydrogels with spatiotemporally tunable mechanical properties have been increasingly employed for studying the impact of tissue mechanics on cell fate processes. These dynamic hydrogels are particularly suitable for recapitulating the temporal stiffening of a tumor microenvironment. To this end, we have reported an [...] Read more.
Hydrogels with spatiotemporally tunable mechanical properties have been increasingly employed for studying the impact of tissue mechanics on cell fate processes. These dynamic hydrogels are particularly suitable for recapitulating the temporal stiffening of a tumor microenvironment. To this end, we have reported an enzyme-mediated stiffening hydrogel system where tyrosinase (Tyrase) was used to stiffen orthogonally crosslinked cell-laden hydrogels. Herein, a mathematical model was proposed to describe enzyme diffusion and reaction within a highly swollen gel network, and to elucidate the critical factors affecting the degree of gel stiffening. Briefly, Fick’s second law of diffusion was used to predict enzyme diffusion in a swollen poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-peptide hydrogel, whereas the Michaelis–Menten model was employed for estimating the extent of enzyme-mediated secondary crosslinking. To experimentally validate model predictions, we designed a hydrogel system composed of 8-arm PEG-norbornene (PEG8NB) and bis-cysteine containing peptide crosslinker. Hydrogel was crosslinked in a channel slide that permitted one-dimensional diffusion of Tyrase. Model predictions and experimental results suggested that an increasing network crosslinking during stiffening process did not significantly affect enzyme diffusion. Rather, diffusion path length and the time of enzyme incubation were more critical in determining the distribution of Tyrase and the formation of additional crosslinks in the hydrogel network. Finally, we demonstrated that the enzyme-stiffened hydrogels exhibited elastic properties similar to other chemically crosslinked hydrogels. This study provides a better mechanistic understanding regarding the process of enzyme-mediated dynamic stiffening of hydrogels. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Microstructure of a Model Fresh Cheese and Bioaccessibility of Vitamin D3 Using In Vitro Digestion
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 10 March 2019
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Abstract
In this study, the effect of a composition (protein to fat (P/F) ratio) and a processing condition (homogenization pressure for emulsification of cheese milk) on the texture, microstructure, and bioaccessibility of vitamin D3 of a model acid coagulated fresh cheese was evaluated. [...] Read more.
In this study, the effect of a composition (protein to fat (P/F) ratio) and a processing condition (homogenization pressure for emulsification of cheese milk) on the texture, microstructure, and bioaccessibility of vitamin D3 of a model acid coagulated fresh cheese was evaluated. It was hypothesized that increasing P/F ratios (0.9, 1.3, 1.7, and 2) and homogenization pressures (17, 50, 75, and 150 MPa) will decrease the particle size of the cheese milk emulsion. The decreased emulsion particle size will result in a more rigid and elastic cheese matrix with smaller pore sizes, with an increased interfacial surface area of fat particles, which will then improve the bioaccessibility of vitamin D3. The P/F ratio exhibited a positive impact on the texture in a large deformation analysis. On the other hand, the effect of the P/F ratio and homogenization pressure was not significant on rheological properties of the cheese using a small deformation by means of a frequency sweep test, nor the porosity determined by environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). These results suggested that the modification of the microstructure of acid coagulated fresh cheeses required other variables than P/F ratio and homogenization pressure probably due to a compression step after curd formation. Interestingly, the bioaccessibility of vitamin D3 measured by in vitro digestion was reduced as P/F ratio and homogenization pressure increased, which may indicate a reinforced protein–protein interaction that affected protein hydrolysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels Prepared with Food Materials)
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Open AccessTechnical Note Designing Supramolecular Gelators: Challenges, Frustrations, and Hopes
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
This article is a personal account of the author, who serendipitously entered the field of supramolecular gels nearly two decades ago. A supramolecular synthon approach in the context of crystal engineering was utilized to develop a working hypothesis to design supramolecular gelators derived [...] Read more.
This article is a personal account of the author, who serendipitously entered the field of supramolecular gels nearly two decades ago. A supramolecular synthon approach in the context of crystal engineering was utilized to develop a working hypothesis to design supramolecular gelators derived from simple organic salts. The activity not only provided a way to occasionally predict gelation, but also afforded clear understanding of the structural landscape of such supramolecular materials. Without waiting for an ab initio approach for designing a gel, a large number of supramolecular gelators derived from organic salts were designed following the working hypothesis thus developed. Organic salts possess a number of advantages in terms of their ease of synthesis, purification, high yield and stability and, therefore, are suitable for developing materials for various applications. Organic salt-based gel materials for containing oil spills, synthesizing inorganic nanostructures and metal nanoparticles, sensing hazardous gas and dissolved glucose, adsorbing dyes, and facilitating drug delivery in self-delivery fashion have been developed. The journey through the soft world of gelators which was started merely by serendipity turned out to be rewarding, despite the challenges and frustrations in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges for Gel Materials in the 21st Century)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Peptide Self-Assembly into Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications Related to Hydroxyapatite
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 25 February 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
Amphiphilic peptides can be self-assembled by establishing physical cross-links involving hydrogen bonds and electrostatic interactions with divalent ions. The derived hydrogels have promising properties due to their biocompatibility, reversibility, trigger capability, and tunability. Peptide hydrogels can mimic the extracellular matrix and favor the [...] Read more.
Amphiphilic peptides can be self-assembled by establishing physical cross-links involving hydrogen bonds and electrostatic interactions with divalent ions. The derived hydrogels have promising properties due to their biocompatibility, reversibility, trigger capability, and tunability. Peptide hydrogels can mimic the extracellular matrix and favor the growth of hydroxyapatite (HAp) as well as its encapsulation. Newly designed materials offer great perspectives for applications in the regeneration of hard tissues such as bones, teeth, and cartilage. Furthermore, development of drug delivery systems based on HAp and peptide self-assembly is attracting attention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels from the Self-Assembling of Peptide-Based Compounds)
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Open AccessArticle Poly[(N-acryloyl glycinamide)-co-(N-acryloyl l-alaninamide)] and Their Ability to Form Thermo-Responsive Hydrogels for Sustained Drug Delivery
Received: 1 January 2019 / Revised: 21 February 2019 / Accepted: 27 February 2019 / Published: 3 March 2019
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Abstract
In the presence of water, poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) homopolymers form highly swollen hydrogels that undergo fast and reversible gel↔sol transitions on heating. According to the literature, the transition temperature depends on concentration and average molecular weight, and in the case of copolymers, [...] Read more.
In the presence of water, poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) homopolymers form highly swollen hydrogels that undergo fast and reversible gel↔sol transitions on heating. According to the literature, the transition temperature depends on concentration and average molecular weight, and in the case of copolymers, composition and hydrophilic/hydrophobic character. In this article, we wish to introduce new copolymers made by free radical polymerization of mixtures of N-acryloyl glycinamide and of its analog optically active N-acryloyl l-alaninamide in various proportions. The N-acryloyl l-alaninamide monomer was selected in attempts to introduce hydrophobicity and chirality in addition to thermo-responsiveness of the Upper Critical Solubilization Temperature-type. The characterization of the resulting copolymers included solubility in solvents, dynamic viscosity in solution, Fourrier Transform Infrared, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and Circular Dichroism spectra. Gel→sol transition temperatures were determined in phosphate buffer (pH = 7.4, isotonic to 320 mOsm/dm3). The release characteristics of hydrophilic Methylene Blue and hydrophobic Risperidone entrapped in poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) and in two copolymers containing 50 and 75% of alanine-based units, respectively, were compared. It was found that increasing the content in N-acryloyl-alaninamide-based units increased the gel→sol transition temperature, decreased the gel consistency, and increased the release rate of Risperidone, but not that of Methylene Blue, with respect to homo poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide). The increase observed in the case of Risperidone appeared to be related to the hydrophobicity generated by alanine residues. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Porous Starch Materials via Supercritical- and Freeze-Drying
Received: 17 December 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
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Abstract
The production of porous materials based on starch has been explored with supercritical drying—yielding aerogel—and freeze-drying. The two drying procedures were applied on the same gelling solution of amylomaize starch pasted at 140 °C and for two concentrations (5 and 10 wt.%). After [...] Read more.
The production of porous materials based on starch has been explored with supercritical drying—yielding aerogel—and freeze-drying. The two drying procedures were applied on the same gelling solution of amylomaize starch pasted at 140 °C and for two concentrations (5 and 10 wt.%). After gelation and retrogradation, water from the samples to be supercritically dried was exchanged to ethanol. The resulting starch aerogel presented high specific surface area (197 m2/g). Freeze-drying was assessed by investigating the effect of the gelation, retrogradation, freezing temperature, and sublimation pressure. The resulting starch materials were macroporous, with limited specific surface area and limited mechanical integrity. Cohesive open cell foam with pore size of ~20 µm was produced by quenching the hot starch melt in liquid nitrogen. The highest specific surface area obtained with freeze-drying was 7.7 m2/g for the hot starch melt frozen at −20 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryogelation and Cryogels)
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Open AccessArticle Supramolecular Strategy Effects on Chitosan Bead Stability in Acidic Media: A Comparative Study
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 16 February 2019 / Published: 25 February 2019
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Abstract
Chitosan beads attract interest in diverse applications, including drug delivery, biocatalysis and water treatment. They can be formed through several supramolecular pathways, ranging from phase inversion in alkaline solutions, to the ionic crosslinking of chitosan with multivalent anions, to polyelectrolyte or surfactant/polyelectrolyte complexation. [...] Read more.
Chitosan beads attract interest in diverse applications, including drug delivery, biocatalysis and water treatment. They can be formed through several supramolecular pathways, ranging from phase inversion in alkaline solutions, to the ionic crosslinking of chitosan with multivalent anions, to polyelectrolyte or surfactant/polyelectrolyte complexation. Many chitosan bead uses require control over their stability to dissolution. To help elucidate how this stability depends on the choice of supramolecular gelation chemistry, we present a comparative study of chitosan bead stability in acidic aqueous media using three common classes of supramolecular chitosan beads: (1) alkaline solution-derived beads, prepared through simple precipitation in NaOH solution; (2) ionically-crosslinked beads, prepared using tripolyphosphate (TPP); and (3) surfactant-crosslinked beads prepared via surfactant/polyelectrolyte complexation using sodium salts of dodecyl sulfate (SDS), caprate (NaC10) and laurate (NaC12). Highly variable bead stabilities with dissimilar sensitivities to pH were achieved using these methods. At low pH levels (e.g., pH 1.2), chitosan/SDS beads were the most stable, requiring roughly 2 days to dissolve. In weakly acidic media (at pH 3.0–5.0), however, chitosan/TPP beads exhibited the highest stability, remaining intact throughout the entire experiment. Beads prepared using only NaOH solution (i.e., without ionic crosslinking or surfactant complexation) were the least stable, except at pH 5.0, where the NaC10 and NaC12-derived beads dissolved slightly faster. Collectively, these findings provide further guidelines for tailoring supramolecular chitosan bead stability in acidic media. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polysaccharide Hydrogels)
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Open AccessReview Calcium-Dependent RTX Domains in the Development of Protein Hydrogels
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 25 February 2019
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Abstract
The RTX domains found in some pathogenic proteins encode repetitive peptide sequences that reversibly bind calcium and fold into the unique the β-roll secondary structure. Several of these domains have been studied in isolation, yielding key insights into their structure/function relationships. These domains [...] Read more.
The RTX domains found in some pathogenic proteins encode repetitive peptide sequences that reversibly bind calcium and fold into the unique the β-roll secondary structure. Several of these domains have been studied in isolation, yielding key insights into their structure/function relationships. These domains are increasingly being used in protein engineering applications, where the calcium-induced control over structure can be exploited to gain new functions. Here we review recent advances in the use of RTX domains in the creation of calcium responsive biomaterials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels from the Self-Assembling of Peptide-Based Compounds)
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Open AccessReview Protein-Based Nanostructures for Food Applications
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
Proteins are receiving significant attention for the production of structures for the encapsulation of active compounds, aimed at their use in food products. Proteins are one of the most used biomaterials in the food industry due to their nutritional value, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and [...] Read more.
Proteins are receiving significant attention for the production of structures for the encapsulation of active compounds, aimed at their use in food products. Proteins are one of the most used biomaterials in the food industry due to their nutritional value, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and ability to create new textures, in particular, their ability to form gel particles that can go from macro- to nanoscale. This review points out the different techniques to obtain protein-based nanostructures and their use to encapsulate and release bioactive compounds, while also presenting some examples of food grade proteins, the mechanism of formation of the nanostructures, and the behavior under different conditions, such as in the gastrointestinal tract. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels Prepared with Food Materials)
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Open AccessReview Physicochemical, Complexation and Catalytic Properties of Polyampholyte Cryogels
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 21 February 2019
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Abstract
Polyampholyte cryogels are a less considered subject in comparison with cryogels based on nonionic, anionic and cationic precursors. This review is devoted to physicochemical behavior, complexation ability and catalytic properties of cryogels based on amphoteric macromolecules. Polyampholyte cryogels are able to exhibit the [...] Read more.
Polyampholyte cryogels are a less considered subject in comparison with cryogels based on nonionic, anionic and cationic precursors. This review is devoted to physicochemical behavior, complexation ability and catalytic properties of cryogels based on amphoteric macromolecules. Polyampholyte cryogels are able to exhibit the stimuli-responsive behavior and change the structure and morphology in response to temperature, pH of the medium, ionic strength and water–organic solvents. Moreover, they can uptake transition metal ions, anionic and cationic dyes, ionic surfactants, polyelectrolytes, proteins, and enzymes through formation of coordination bonds, hydrogen bonds, and electrostatic forces. The catalytic properties of polyampholyte cryogels themselves and with immobilized metal nanoparticles suspended are outlined following hydrolysis, transesterification, hydrogenation and oxidation reactions of various substrates. Application of polyampholyte cryogels as a protein-imprinted matrix for separation and purification of biomacromolecules and for sustained release of proteins is demonstrated. Comparative analysis of the behavior of polyampholyte cryogels with nonionic, anionic and cationic precursors is given together with concluding remarks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryogelation and Cryogels)
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Open AccessArticle Gelation Kinetics of Hydrogels Based on Acrylamide–AMPS–NVP Terpolymer, Bentonite, and Polyethylenimine for Conformance Control of Oil Reservoirs
Received: 17 November 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 5 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
Relatively smaller volumes of gelling systems had been used to address conformance problems located near the wellbore in oil reservoirs with harsh temperature and salinity conditions. These gelling systems were formulated with high concentrations of low-molecular-weight acrylamide-based polymers crosslinked with polyethylenimine (PEI). However, [...] Read more.
Relatively smaller volumes of gelling systems had been used to address conformance problems located near the wellbore in oil reservoirs with harsh temperature and salinity conditions. These gelling systems were formulated with high concentrations of low-molecular-weight acrylamide-based polymers crosslinked with polyethylenimine (PEI). However, for in-depth conformance control, in which large gelant volumes and long gelation times were required, lower-base polymer loadings were necessary to ensure the economic feasibility of the treatment. In this study, a gelling system with high-molecular weight 2-acrylamido-2-methylpropane sulfonic acid (AMPS), N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone (NVP), acrylamide terpolymer, and PEI, with the addition of bentonite as a filler, was formulated. The influence of the gelant formulation and reservoir conditions on the gelation kinetics and final gel strength of the system was investigated through bottle tests and rheological tests. The addition of clay in the formulation increased the gelation time, thermal stability, and syneresis resistance, and slightly improved the final gel strength. Furthermore, samples prepared with polymer and PEI concentrations below 1 wt %, natural bentonite, and PEI with molecular weight of 70,000 kg/kmol and pH of 11: (i) presented good injectivity and propagation parameters (pseudoplastic behavior and viscosity ~25 mPa·s); (ii) showed suitable gelation times for near wellbore (~5 h) or far wellbore (~21 h) treatments; and (iii) formed strong composite hydrogels (equilibrium complex modulus ~10–20 Pa and Sydansk code G to H) with low syneresis and good long-term stability (~3 to 6 months) under harsh conditions. Therefore, the use of high-molecular-weight base polymer and low-cost clay as active filler seems promising to improve the cost-effectiveness of gelling systems for in-depth conformance treatments under harsh conditions of temperature and salinity/hardness. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Influence of Structure-Directing Additives on the Properties of Poly(methylsilsesquioxane) Aerogel-Like Materials
Received: 22 December 2018 / Revised: 12 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 28 January 2019
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Abstract
The effect of glycerol (GLY) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) additives on the properties of silica aerogel-like monoliths obtained from methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) precursor was assessed. The tested molar ratios of additive/precursor were from 0 to 0.1 and the lowest bulk densities were obtained with [...] Read more.
The effect of glycerol (GLY) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) additives on the properties of silica aerogel-like monoliths obtained from methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) precursor was assessed. The tested molar ratios of additive/precursor were from 0 to 0.1 and the lowest bulk densities were obtained with a ratio of 0.025. When a washing step was performed in the sample containing the optimum PEG ratio, the bulk density could be reduced even further. The analysis of the material’s microstructure allowed us to conclude that GLY, if added in an optimum amount, originates a narrower pore size distribution with a higher volume of mesopores and specific surface area. The PEG additive played a binder effect, leading to the filling of micropores and the appearance of large pores (macropores), which caused a reduction in the specific surface area. The reduction of the bulk density and the microstructural changes in the aerogels induced by adding a small amount of these additives confirm the possibility of fine control of properties of these lightweight materials. The achieved high porosity (97%) and low thermal conductivity (~35 mW·m−1·K−1) makes them suitable to be used as thermal insulators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerogels 2018)
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Open AccessArticle Supramolecular Tripeptide Hydrogel Assembly with 5-Fluorouracil
Received: 24 December 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 26 January 2019
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Abstract
In this work, we present Thioflavin T fluorescence, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), circular dichroism (CD), Fourier-transformed infrared (FT-IR), and oscillatory rheometry studies applied to an antineoplastic drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), embedded in a heterochiral tripeptide hydrogel to obtain a drug delivery supramolecular system. The [...] Read more.
In this work, we present Thioflavin T fluorescence, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), circular dichroism (CD), Fourier-transformed infrared (FT-IR), and oscillatory rheometry studies applied to an antineoplastic drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), embedded in a heterochiral tripeptide hydrogel to obtain a drug delivery supramolecular system. The release of 5-fluorouracil was monitored over time by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and its interaction with the tripeptide assemblies was probed by all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels from the Self-Assembling of Peptide-Based Compounds)
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Open AccessArticle Physical Interactions Strengthen Chemical Gelatin Methacryloyl Gels
Received: 20 October 2018 / Revised: 10 January 2019 / Accepted: 12 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
Chemically cross-linkable gelatin methacryloyl (GM) derivatives are getting increasing attention regarding biomedical applications. Thus, thorough investigations are needed to achieve full understanding and control of the physico-chemical behavior of these promising biomaterials. We previously introduced gelatin methacryloyl acetyl (GMA) derivatives, which can be [...] Read more.
Chemically cross-linkable gelatin methacryloyl (GM) derivatives are getting increasing attention regarding biomedical applications. Thus, thorough investigations are needed to achieve full understanding and control of the physico-chemical behavior of these promising biomaterials. We previously introduced gelatin methacryloyl acetyl (GMA) derivatives, which can be used to control physical network formation (solution viscosity, sol-gel transition) independently from chemical cross-linking by variation of the methacryloyl-to-acetyl ratio. It is known that temperature dependent physical network formation significantly influences the mechanical properties of chemically cross-linked GM hydrogels. We investigated the temperature sensitivity of GM derivatives with different degrees of modification (GM2, GM10), or similar degrees of modification but different methacryloyl contents (GM10, GM2A8). Rheological analysis showed that the low modified GM2 forms strong physical gels upon cooling while GM10 and GM2A8 form soft or no gels. Yet, compression testing revealed that all photo cross-linked GM(A) hydrogels were stronger if cooling was applied during hydrogel preparation. We suggest that the hydrophobic methacryloyl and acetyl residues disturb triple helix formation with increasing degree of modification, but additionally form hydrophobic structures, which facilitate chemical cross-linking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tough Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Local Structure of Ca2+ Alginate Hydrogels Gelled via Competitive Ligand Exchange and Measured by Small Angle X-Ray Scattering
Received: 16 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
Alginates, being linear anionic co-polymers of 1,4-linked residues β-d-ManA (M) and α-l-GulA (G), are widely applied as hydrogel biomaterials due to their favourable in vivo biocompatibility and convenient ionic crosslinking. The “egg-box” model is the prevailing description of the [...] Read more.
Alginates, being linear anionic co-polymers of 1,4-linked residues β-d-ManA (M) and α-l-GulA (G), are widely applied as hydrogel biomaterials due to their favourable in vivo biocompatibility and convenient ionic crosslinking. The “egg-box” model is the prevailing description of the local structure of junction zones that form between the alginate chains and divalent cations, such as Ca2+, when ionic gelation occurs. In the present study we address to what extent signatures of lateral dimerization and further lateral association of junction zones also represent a valid model for the gelation of alginate using the recently reported method of competitive ligand exchange of chelated Ca2+ ions as a method for introducing gelling ions at constant pH. Small angle X-ray scattering with a q range from 0.1 to 3.3 nm−1 was employed to determine local structure in the hydrogel, using a custom-made fluid sample cell inserted in the X-ray beam. The scattering volume was intended to be localized to the contact zone between the two injected aqueous alginate solutions, and data was captured to resolve the kinetics of the structure formation at three different conditions of pH. The data show evolution of the local structure for the Ca2+ induced formation of junction zones in an alginate with 68% G residues, characterized by cross-sectional radii that could be accounted for by a two-component, broken rod like model. The evolution of the two component weight fractions apparently underpinned the connectivity, as reflected in the rheological data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polysaccharide Hydrogels)
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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Gels in 2018
Published: 9 January 2019
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Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of high-quality academic publishing[...] Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Highly Stretchable and Rapid Self-Recoverable Cryogels Based on Butyl Rubber as Reusable Sorbent
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 27 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 7 January 2019
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Abstract
Cryogels based on hydrophobic polymers combining good mechanical properties with fast responsivity are attractive materials for many applications, such as oil spill removal from water and passive sampler for organic pollutants. We present, here, cryogels based on butyl rubber (BR) with a high [...] Read more.
Cryogels based on hydrophobic polymers combining good mechanical properties with fast responsivity are attractive materials for many applications, such as oil spill removal from water and passive sampler for organic pollutants. We present, here, cryogels based on butyl rubber (BR) with a high stretchability, rapid self-recoverability, and excellent reusability for organic solvents. BR cryogels were prepared at subzero temperatures in cyclohexane and benzene at various BR concentrations in the presence of sulfur monochloride (S2Cl2) as a crosslinker. Although the properties of BR cryogels are independent of the amount of the crosslinker above a critical value, the type of the solvent, the cryogelation temperature, as well as the rubber content significantly affect their properties. It was found that benzene produces larger pore volumes as compared to cyclohexane due to the phase separation of BR from benzene at low temperatures, producing additional pores. Increasing cryogelation temperature from −18 to −2 °C leads to the formation of more ordered and aligned pores in the cryogels. Increasing BR content decreases the amount of unfrozen microphase of the frozen reaction solution, leading to a decrease in the total porosity of the cryogels and the average diameter of pores. Cryogels formed at −2 °C and at 5% (w/v) BR in cyclohexane sustain up to around 1400% stretch ratios. Cryogels swollen in toluene can completely be squeezed under strain during which toluene is released from their pores, whereas addition of toluene to the squeezed cryogels leads to recovery of their original shapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryogelation and Cryogels)
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