Swelling kinetics of water-swollen polyacrylamide (PAAm) hydrogels (WSG) was investigated in various concentrations of aqueous NaCl by macroscopic swelling measurements. For lower concentration of NaCl, WSG showed exponential swelling whereas at higher concentration of NaCl it underwent deswelling at short times and exponential swelling at long times. From these studies, collective diffusion coefficient, 𝐷, of the polymer network and polymer–solvent interaction parameter, 𝜒 , were calculated and found to decrease with increase in [NaCl]. Collective diffusion coefficients measured from dynamic light scattering (DLS) and that obtained from macroscopic swelling measurements are found to agree well. Measured ensemble-averaged dynamic structure factor $f (q, t)$ for WSG and salt-swollen gels (SSG) showed an initial decay followed by a plateau at long times and it can be described by harmonically bound Brownian particle (HBBP) model. Enhanced scattering intensity at low scattering angles using static light scattering (SLS) measurements revealed the presence of inhomogeneities in PAAm gels. The reasons for increased scattering intensity of SSG over WSG gel and the linear decrease of 𝐷 with increase in NaCl concentration are explained.
Volume 96, 2022
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