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Thermally induced gelation in aqueous solutions of methylcellulose (MC) and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC) has been studied by rheological, optical microscopy, and turbidimetry measurements. The structural and mechanical properties of these hydrogels are dominated by the interplay between phase separation and gelation. In MC solutions, phase separation takes place almost simultaneously with gelation. An increase in the storage modulus is coupled to the appearance of a bicontinuous structure upon heating. However, a thermal gap exists between phase separation and gelation in the case of HPMC solutions. The storage modulus shows a dramatic decrease during phase separation and then rises in the subsequent gelation. A macroporous structure forms in the gels via "viscoelastic phase separation" linked to "double phase separation".


J Patrick A Fairclough, Hao Yu, Oscar Kelly, Anthony J Ryan, Robert L Sammler, Michael Radler. Interplay between gelation and phase separation in aqueous solutions of methylcellulose and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose. Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids. 2012 Jul 17;28(28):10551-7

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PMID: 22694273

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