Hydrogel (also called Aquagel) is a network of polymer chains that are water-insoluble, sometimes found as a colloidal gel
in which water is the dispersion medium. Hydrogels are superabsorbent (they can contain over 99% water) natural or
synthetic polymers. Hydrogels also possess a degree of flexibility very similar to natural tissue, due to their significant water
Common uses for hydrogels include
currently used as scaffolds in tissue engineering. When used as scaffolds, hydrogels may contain human cells in order to
environmentally sensitive hydrogels. These hydrogels have the ability to sense changes of pH, temperature, or the
concentration of metabolite and release their load as result of such a change.
as sustained-release delivery systems
provide absorption, desloughing and debriding capacities of necrotics and fibrotic tissue.
hydrogels that are responsive to specific molecules, such as glucose or antigens can be used as biosensors as well as in
used in disposable diapers where they "capture" urine, or in sanitary napkins
contact lenses (silicone hydrogels, polyacrylamides)
medical electrodes using hydrogels composed of cross linked polymers (polyethylene oxide, polyAMPS and
Water gel explosives
Other, less common uses include
granules for holding soil moisture in arid areas
dressings for healing of burn or other hard-to-heal wounds. Wound gels are excellent for helping to create or maintain a
reservoirs in topical drug delivery; particularly ionic drugs, delivered by iontophoresis (see ion exchange resin)
Common ingredients are e.g. polyvinyl alcohol, sodium polyacrylate, acrylate polymers and copolymers with an abundance
of hydrophilic groups.
Natural hydrogel materials are being investigated for tissue engineering, these materials include agarose, methylcellulose,
hylaronan, and other naturally derived polymers.
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