Understanding Three Hydration-Dependent Transitions of Zwitterionic Carboxybetaine Hydrogel by Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Y He and Q Shao and HK Tsao and SF Chen and WA Goddard and SY Jiang, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 115, 11575-11580 (2011).

DOI: 10.1021/jp204682x

In this work, molecular dynamics simulations were performed to study a carboxybetaine methacrylate (CBMA) hydrogel under various swelling states. The water content in this study ranged from 28% to 91% of the total weight of the hydrogel. Three transitions of the CBMA hydrogel were observed as the water content increased. The first transition occurs when the water content increases from 33% to 37%. The observed kink in the self-diffusion coefficient of water indicates that the hydration of the polymer network of the hydrogel is saturated; the further added water is in a less confined state. The second transition was found to be related to the physical cross-links of the polymer network. As the water content rises to above 62%, the lifetime of the physical cross-links decreases significantly. This abrupt change in the lifetime indicates that the transition represents the equilibrium swelling state of the hydrogel. Finally, the third transition was observed when the water content goes above 81%. The significant increases in the bond and angle energies of the polymer network indicate that the hydrogel reaches its upper limit swelling state at this transition. These results are comparable to previously published experimental studies of similar zwitterionic hydrogels.

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