Hydrogels may be conveniently described as hydrophilic polymers that are swollen by, but do not dissolve in water. In this work a series of copolymer hydrogels and semi-interpenetrating polymer networks based on the monomers 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, N-vinyl pyrrolidone and N'N' dimethyl acrylamide, together with some less hydrophilic hydroxyalkyl acrylates and methacrylates have been synthesised. Variations in structure and composition have been correlated both with the total equilibrium water content of the resultant hydrogel and with the more detailed water binding behaviour, as revealed by differential scanning calorimetry studies. The water binding characteristics of the hydrogels were found to be primarily a function of the water structuring groups present in gel. The water binding abilities of these groups were, however, modified by steric effects. The mechanical properties of the hydrogels were also investigated. These were found to be dependent on both the polymer composition and the amount and nature of the water present in the gels. In biological systems, composite formation provides a means of producing strong, high water content materials. As an analogy with these systems hydrogel composites were prepared. In an initial study of these materials the water binding and mechanical properties of semi-interpenetrating polymer networks of N'N'dimethyl acrylamide with cellulosic type materials, with polyurethanes and with ester containing polymers were examined. A preliminary investigation of surface properties of both the copolymers and semi-interpenetrating polymer networks has been completed, using both contact angle measurements and anchorage dependent fibroblast cells. Measurable differences in surface properties attributable to structural variations in the polymers were detected by droplet techniques in the dehydrated state. However, in the hydrated state these differences were masked by the water in the gels. The use of cells enabled the underlying differences to be probed and the nature of the water structuring group was again found to be the dominant factor.
|Date of Award||1988|
|Supervisor||Brian Tighe (Supervisor)|