Novel hydrogel polymers

  • James J. Ma

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Hydrogels are a unique class of polymers which swell, but do not dissolve in water. A range of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate based copolymer hydrogels have been synthesised and are described in this thesis. Initially, hydrogels were synthesised containing acryloylmorpholine, N,N-dimethyl acrylamide and N-vinyl pyrrolidone. Variations in structure and composition have been correlated with the sequence distribution, equilibrium water content (EWC) , mechanical and surface properties of the hydrogels. The sequence distribution was found to be dependant on the structure and reactivity of the monomers. The EWC was found to be dependant on the water structuring groups present in the hydrogel, although the water binding abilities were modified by steric effects. The mechanical properties were also investigated and were found to be dependant on the monomer structure, sequence distribution and the amount
and nature of water in the hydrogel. The macroscopic surface properties of the
hydrogels were probed using surface energy determinations and were found to be a function of the water content and the hydrogel composition. At a molecular level, surface properties were investigated using an in vitro ocular spoilation model and single protein adhesion studies. The results indicate that the sequence distribution and the polarity of the surface affect the adhesion of biological species.
Finally, a range of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate based copolymer hydrogels containing both charged monomer groups and linear polyethers have been synthesised and described. Although variations in the EWC are observed with the structure of the monomers, it was observed that the EWC increased due to the polar character of the charged monomers and the chain length and hydrophilicity of the polyethers. Investigation of these hydrogel surfaces revealed subtle changes. The molecular surface properties indicate the significance of the effect of charge and molecular mobility of the groups expressed at the hydrogel surface.
Date of AwardSept 1995
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • acryloylmorpholine
  • charged monomers
  • equilibrium water content (EWC)
  • polyethers
  • surface properties

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