29 April 1996 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The addition of a vinyl acrylate group to sucrose in a pyridine medium can produce sugar-based hydrogels that can absorb up to 300 times its own weight of water. The reaction is mediated by the enzyme subtilisin, an alkaline protease, that catalyses the monoacrylation of the sucrose to give ordered chains.
The polymeric gels are formed by crosslinking the sugar acylate monomers in water with 0.1% sodium persulphate and 1% betamethylglucoside-2,6-diacrylate as the crosslinking agent. Jonathan Dordick of the University of Iowa says the hydrogels will first be used in drug delivery and biomaterial products, but disposable nappies and chemical spill absorbers are attractive markets to aim for.
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