Journal of pharmaceutical sciences vol:88 issue:2 pages:209-214
Free radical polymerization converts aqueous solutions of methacrylated inulin into cross-linked hydrogels. The purpose of this work was to study the hydrogel formation and to characterize the fully cured hydrogels. The gelation process of aqueous solutions of methacrylated inulin was monitored as a function of time by means of linear oscillatory shear measurements, at a fixed frequency and amplitude. The fully cured inulin hydrogels were characterized by measurement of the frequency-dependency of the linear elastic modulus G'. The effects of the degree of substitution and feed concentration of methacrylated inulin on both the gelation kinetics and the rigidity of the obtained hydrogels were determined. The effect of the concentration of the initiators of the radical polymerization reaction has been studied as well. The weight fraction of polymer which was not incorporated in the hydrogel networks was determined using the anthrone reaction, and physical chain entanglements were determined by solution viscosity measurements. The gelation kinetics and the elastic modulus were proportional to the degree of substitution and feed concentration of methacrylated inulin. Increasing concentrations of radical-forming compounds also accelerated the hydrogel formation, but lowered the elastic modulus of the obtained hydrogels. The amount of polymer chains incorporated in the hydrogel network seemed to be especially influenced by the degree of substitution of the derivatized inulin, and for a feed concentration of 27% w/w of methacrylated inulin, entanglements have to be accounted for. The gelation kinetics and the elastic modulus of inulin hydrogels are not only affected by the degree of substitution and the feed concentration of methacrylated inulin, but also by the concentration of the initiators of the free radical polymerization reaction.