Hydrogels are networked structures of polymer chains cross-linked to each other and surrounded by an aqueous solution. The gels swell/deswell under several environmental conditions like pH, salt concentration, temperature, electric field, light etc. Minor modifications can also make them sensitive to several biological agents. As a result, there is a widespread application of hydrogels in a number of areas like control of microfluidic flow, development of muscle-like actuators, filtration/separation, MEMS/Bio-MEMS and drug delivery. This makes it important to properly understand these materials. In this paper, we present an improved mathematical model (see [J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(5) (2002) 544] for details on the earlier model) to predict the swelling/deswelling rates of hydrogels in buffered pH solutions. The kinetic model developed earlier neglected the electro-static effects within the gel generated due to the movement of the ions. It also used the Donnan theory which may not be valid in the interior of the gel. The present work takes into account the electro-static effects and replaces the Donnan theory with the more general chemo-electro-mechanical model. Time dependent mechanical equations and the effect of fluid flow velocity have also been explored in the new models. The results have been compared with experimental data and a significant improvement has been noticed after the above modifications were made, especially for smaller gel sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
JournalMechanics of Materials
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanics of Materials


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