critical point drying
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
Abstract Froeze-etching (FE) and critical point drying (CPD) techniques were employed to prepare samples for investigating surface and bulk structures of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogels by scanning electron microscopy. The hydrogels were obtained by freezing homogeneous solutions containing PVA polymer in either water or an aqueous solution of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). An oriented porous structure was observed in the PVA hydrogel prepared without DMSO. The structure on the surface was found to be more porous than in the bulk for PVA hydrogels prepared from aqueous DMSO solutions. For given compositions of the hydrogels, samples prepared by FE technique showed a highly porous fibrillar structure on the surface, while those prepared by CPD technique showed a collapsed fibrillar structure with much less porosity. This marked difference indicates a collapse of the surface structure caused by the CPD technique. The CPD technique also led to significant reduction in porosity and loss of fibrillar structure in the bulk. Volume shrinkage of hydrogels caused by dehydration in ethanol may be responsible for the surface collapse as well as alteration of bulk structure. The FE technique reveals a more native structure of hydrogels than the commonly used CPD technique. However, it suffers from disadvantages such as charging and structural damage at high magnifications.
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