Swelling and elution properties of physically crosslinked poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) cast gels depend on the network structure of the PVA and crosslink, which is characterized by the size, number, and distribution of microcrystallites. Therefore, the swelling and elution ratios can be manipulated by adept control of the conditions adopted for the preparation of gels. Among the various factors that influence the formation of microcrystallites, the temperature and relative humidity at gelation play an important role. In addition, the size of gel is also a key factor that determines the network structure of gels. To this end, this study quantitatively evaluates the macroscopic properties of swelling and elution, and the microscopic properties of the network structures in disk-shaped PVA cast gels of the same diameter prepared by casting different weights of PVA solution in the same dish. Although the drying speed can be controlled by adjusting the three processing parameters, namely, drying temperature, humidity, and cast weight, the changes in swelling and elution ratios, microcrystallite size, and crystallinity independently depended on each parameter. Regardless of the three factors, the swelling ratio was found to correlate strongly with the elution ratio. Optimum factors to minimize the elution ratio are discussed on the basis of the change in the network structures obtained by varying the preparatory conditions. Based on the results of the systematic analyses, this study proposes a method to control the elution ratio while retaining high water-absorbance ability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics