ABSTRACT Hydrogels are highly water-absorbent hydrophilic polymer networks, which show potential in many biocompatible applications. In previous work, we demonstrated the feasibility of using poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEG-DMA) gels polymerized with a photoinitiator for encapsulation and stabilization of painted biomimetic membrane arrays for novel separation technologies or biosensor applications. These gels were formed from PEG-DMA monomers suspended in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) solution and gelated by radical polymerization in the presence of the photoinitiator Darocur 1173. In this work, we show that the properties of a PEG-DMA hydrogel formed by photoinitiated polymerizetion can be tailored by varying the photocrosslinking time. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman Spectroscopy (RS) showed that the optimal crosslinking time for the gel was 6 - 10 minutes and that the water content of the gels could be tuned in the range of 50 - 90 wt%. The resistivity was between 0.8 - 3.5 Ωm, which is comparable to that of PBS. The low resistivity of the gel makes it compatible for encapsulating membranes for (ion channel based) biosensor applications. With FTIR and RS we identified spectral features of the hydrogel, which may serve as a diagnostic tool to monitor changes in the gels due to variation in parameters such as time, pH, temperature, aging or exposure to chemicals or biological material.
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