The gelation and crosslinking features of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels were scrutinized through the UV polymerization processes of poly(ethylene glycol) methacrylate (PEGMA) and poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) mixtures. The real-time evolutions of the elastic moduli of the prepolymerized mixtures with different crosslinking ratios of PEGMA and PEGDMA and the photoinitiator concentrations were measured during photopolymerization. The rheological properties were compared with other properties of the PEG hydrogels, including the relative changes in the C=C amounts in the mixtures before and after UV irradiation, water swelling ratio, gel fraction, mesh size, and mechanical hardness. As the portion of PEGDMA as a crosslinker increased, the final elastic modulus and gel fraction increased, whereas the swelling ratio and scratch penetration depth at the hydrogel film surface decreased because of the formation of compact networks inside the hydrogels. These results indicate that there was a good correlation between the rheological analysis for predicting the crosslinking transition during photopolymerization and the macroscopic properties of the crosslinked hydrogels.
- viscosity and viscoelasticity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry