In the present investigation, hydrogels with pH-responsive and temperature-sensitive properties were obtained by formation of alginate-Ca network inside the PNIPAAm network resulting in an interpenetrated network system (IPN). From scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images and water uptake (WU) tests one observed that IPN hydrogels exhibited a drastic shrinking when heated above 30-35 ºC. The shrinking resulted in decreased average pore size, thus affect the hydrogel morphology significantly. In the pH range studied, IPN hydrogels showed significant pH dependence, which was attributed to the charged alginate groups. The results indicated that the pH-responsiveness and temperature-dependence of alginate and PNIPAAm, respectively, were preserved in IPN hydrogels. In addition, such hydrogels become less deformable when subjected to compressive stress. These hydrogels presented porous morphology that may be tuned by controlling the temperature, and this makes them attractive for applications as biomaterial in cell growth.
Hydrogels; temperature-sensitivity; pH-responsive; morphology; cell growing