We report an investigation on the effects of the confinement imposed by application-relevant poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel matrices with controlled porosity on the dynamics of soft microgels. Through a detailed characterization of the internal structure of the hydrogels at the nano and microscale, we were able to link the microgel dynamics, measured by particle tracking, to the 3D geometrical confinement imposed by the porous matrices. PEG hydrogels with a high degree of transparency and tunable pore sizes and volume fractions were obtained using freeze-thawing. We found that the porosity of the hydrogel networks is characterized by elongated channels having asymmetric sections, with the average size decreasing from about 7 to about 2 particle diameters, and the size distribution becoming narrower with increasing PEG content in the pre-reaction mixture. The microgel dynamics slowdown and change from diffusive to sub-diffusive as a result of the increasing confinement. The observed decrease in diffusivity is consistent with models of diffusion in cylindrical pores and can be attributed to hydrodynamic and steric effects in addition to geometrical constriction. A dependence of the effective diffusion coefficient on the pore volume fraction, which is unusually pronounced, suggests the presence of microgel-hydrogel interactions. Our results demonstrate that a detailed characterization of the 3D geometry of the porous network is of primary importance for the understanding of transport properties in complex, random porous media.

Microgel dynamics within the 3D porous structure of transparent PEG hydrogels / Bassu, Gavino; Laurati, Marco; Fratini, Emiliano. - In: COLLOIDS AND SURFACES. B, BIOINTERFACES. - ISSN 1873-4367. - ELETTRONICO. - 221:(2022), pp. 0-0. [10.1016/j.colsurfb.2022.112938]

Microgel dynamics within the 3D porous structure of transparent PEG hydrogels

Bassu, Gavino;Laurati, Marco;Fratini, Emiliano
2022

Abstract

We report an investigation on the effects of the confinement imposed by application-relevant poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel matrices with controlled porosity on the dynamics of soft microgels. Through a detailed characterization of the internal structure of the hydrogels at the nano and microscale, we were able to link the microgel dynamics, measured by particle tracking, to the 3D geometrical confinement imposed by the porous matrices. PEG hydrogels with a high degree of transparency and tunable pore sizes and volume fractions were obtained using freeze-thawing. We found that the porosity of the hydrogel networks is characterized by elongated channels having asymmetric sections, with the average size decreasing from about 7 to about 2 particle diameters, and the size distribution becoming narrower with increasing PEG content in the pre-reaction mixture. The microgel dynamics slowdown and change from diffusive to sub-diffusive as a result of the increasing confinement. The observed decrease in diffusivity is consistent with models of diffusion in cylindrical pores and can be attributed to hydrodynamic and steric effects in addition to geometrical constriction. A dependence of the effective diffusion coefficient on the pore volume fraction, which is unusually pronounced, suggests the presence of microgel-hydrogel interactions. Our results demonstrate that a detailed characterization of the 3D geometry of the porous network is of primary importance for the understanding of transport properties in complex, random porous media.
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Bassu, Gavino; Laurati, Marco; Fratini, Emiliano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1291184
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