PVA Hydrogels

Hydrogels are another class of soft material we are investigating. Hydrogels are typically comprised of a sparse network of cross-linked polymers imbedded in a fluid matrix - one well-known example is Jello. Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) solutions form hydrogels when thermally cycled to –20 °C and back to room temperature, with repeated cycling resulting in stronger gels. This material has applications as a biomaterial ranging from wound dressings to heart valve stents.  

Mechanical properties of PVA hydrogels as a function of thermal cycling

  The utility of this hydrogel is enhanced by its ability to form gels with anisotropic mechanical properties when processed under strain. We are using mechanical testing and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to determine the gelation mechanism leading to these unusual properties.

Last updated July 16, 2005