Chemically induced swelling of hydrogels

TitleChemically induced swelling of hydrogels
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsJ Dolbow, E Fried, and H Ji
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Start Page51
Pagination51 - 84
Date Published01/2004

We consider a continuum model for chemically induced volume transitions in hydrogels. Consistent with experimental observations, the model allows for a sharp interface separating swelled and collapsed phases of the underlying polymer network. The polymer chains are treated as a solute with an associated diffusion potential and their concentration is assumed to be discontinuous across the interface. In addition to the standard bulk and interfacial equations imposing force balance and solute balance, the model involves a supplemental interfacial equation imposing configurational force balance. We present a hybrid eXtended-Finite-Element/Level-Set Method for obtaining approximate solutions to the governing equations of the model. As an application, we consider the swelling of a spherical specimen whose boundary is traction-free and is in contact with a reservoir of uniform chemical potential. Our numerical results exhibit good qualitative comparison with experimental observations and predict characteristic swelling times that are proportional to the square of the specimen radius. Our results also suggest several possible synthetic pathways that might be pursued to engineer hydrogels with optimal response times. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Short TitleJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids