Purdue University, United States
pp. 544 - 547
Keywords: polymer gels, rheology, concrete, injectable materials
Polymer gels have many industrial uses, from drug-delivery and wound-healing materials to the superabsorbent gels used in baby diapers as well as high-performance concrete. The macro-scale physical properties of the polymer gels, including the gel’s strength, fracture toughness, and swelling behavior, are directly dependent on the micro-scale structure of the internal polymer network. As described in this presentation, it can be challenging to physically characterize the microstructure of a polymer gel, due to the intrinsic mechanical weakness and high solvent content of the system. Instead, model polymer gel systems with well-defined, custom-synthesized network structures can be investigated in order to determine the fundamental structure-property relationships that define the gel’s overall performance. In this presentation, I will describe our recent research results using rheometry-based characterization tools to study the shear-induced fracture, friction, and healing behavior of physically associating polymer gels which have direct relevance to injectable hydrogels being developed for biomedical applications. I will also describe our current research efforts to design new composite hydrogels for applications as internal curing agents in high-performance concrete.