The structure of fatty acid-modified hydrogel objects (μgels) created within microfluidic devices for controlled-release or sensory applications was characterized by various imaging and spectroscopic methods. Imaging with scanning electron microscopy revealed that the surface was rough and irregular on the micrometer scale. Examination of planar model systems analogous to the modified μgels with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and secondary ion mass spectroscopy showed that a fatty acid coating formed when the reaction conditions were conducive to covalent-bond formation. Visualization of the selectively stained lipophilic coating with laser scanning confocal microscopy while the μgel was positioned within a microfluidic channel demonstrated that the coating was confined to the μgel's periphery. Finally, using transmission electron microscopy, the thickness of the region functionalized with fatty acids was determined to be around 9 μm on samples very similar to those integrated into microfluidic devices. By using transmission electron microscopy to monitor the thickness of the fatty acid coating produced with different reaction conditions, it may be possible to customize these hybrid materials for specific sensory or controlled-release applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1119
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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