An Improved Correlation to Predict Molecular Weight Between Crosslinks Based on Equilibrium Degree of Swelling of Hydrogel Networks

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Accurate characterization of hydrogel diffusional properties is of substantial importance for a range of biotechnological applications. The diffusional capacity of hydrogels has commonly been estimated using the average molecular weight between crosslinks (Mc), which is calculated based on the equilibrium degree of swelling. However, the existing correlation linking Mc and equilibrium swelling fails to accurately reflect the diffusional properties of highly crosslinked hydrogel networks. Also, as demonstrated herein, the current model fails to accurately predict the diffusional properties of hydrogels when polymer concentration and molecular weight are varied simultaneously. To address these limitations, we evaluated the diffusional properties of 48 distinct hydrogel formulations using two different photoinitiator systems, employing molecular size exclusion as an alternative methodology to calculate average hydrogel mesh size. The resulting data were then utilized to develop a revised correlation between Mc and hydrogel equilibrium swelling that substantially reduces the limitations associated with the current correlation.





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Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials