Algal polymer Hydrogels

Hydrogels are a network of crosslinked polymers that do not dissolve but can swell in water or respond to the environment.

They have a broad range of applications.

Hydrogel crosslinked without chemical reaction

Hydrogels are absorbent and can contain over 90% water. They possess a degree of flexibility due to their water content.

The personal lubricant (see earlier post) has led to investigation toward a range of other hydrogels.

Together with Peng Su we have been working toward production of hydrogels.

Early hydrogel investigation: tight matrix and unsatisfactory form. The crosslinking application was too aggressive.

Hydrogel properties:

  • both solid and liquid
  • high biocompatibility
  • can trap water
  • shrinks when dried

We have investigated with both homo-polymer (single) and co-polymer types. Certain types link without need for chemical crosslinking. Others we have chemically cross linked.


  • Can be occupied by drug molecules for drug delivery
  • cell culture/engineering as extra-cellular/stem cell matrix
  • contact lens
  • wound dressing
  • can influence cell behaviour
  • water carrier/hydrophilic absorbent polymer
  • cancer treatment
  • drug delivery
  • bio-sensor – temperature, pH sensitive, glucose, antigens
  • skin generation
  • similar to natural tissue
  • cell entrapment – low toxicity, hydrogel beads
  • time release
  • transport properties
  • can be injected
  • food industry gel


  • non-adherent
  • low strength
  • difficult handling
Hydrogels chemically crosslinked in two stages

Initial experiments at CMDB showed that the delicate hydrogels polymers were disrupted by the addition of a crosslinking chemical. A two step, spray and dip method was developed by myself and Peng Su.


Information pertaining to hydrogel properties and application.




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