4 years ago

Drying Affects the Fiber Network in Low Molecular Weight Hydrogels

Drying Affects the Fiber Network in Low Molecular Weight Hydrogels
Zhuola, Hao Su, Honggang Cui, Sarah Rogers, Gregory N. Smith, Riaz Akhtar, Laura L. E. Mears, Bart Dietrich, Emily R. Draper, James Doutch, Michael C. Nolan, Dave J. Adams, Ana M. Castilla
Low molecular weight gels are formed by the self-assembly of a suitable small molecule gelator into a three-dimensional network of fibrous structures. The gel properties are determined by the fiber structures, the number and type of cross-links and the distribution of the fibers and cross-links in space. Probing these structures and cross-links is difficult. Many reports rely on microscopy of dried gels (xerogels), where the solvent is removed prior to imaging. The assumption is made that this has little effect on the structures, but it is not clear that this assumption is always (or ever) valid. Here, we use small angle neutron scattering (SANS) to probe low molecular weight hydrogels formed by the self-assembly of dipeptides. We compare scattering data for wet and dried gels, as well as following the drying process. We show that the assumption that drying does not affect the network is not always correct.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00823

DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00823

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