Controlled swelling and shrinking of polyelectrolyte gels is useful for regulating the transport of solutes into, out of, and through these materials. A macroscopic continuum model is presented to predict the kinetics of swelling in polyelectrolyte gel membranes induced by augmentation of electrostatic swelling forces arising from membrane fixed charge groups. The model accounts for ionic transport within the membrane, electrodiffusion phenomena, dissociation of membrane charge groups, intramembrane fluid flow, and mechanical deformation of the membrane matrix. Model predictions are compared with measurements of chemically and electrically induced swelling and shrinking in crosslinked polymethacrylic acid (PMAA) membranes. Large, reversible changes in PMAA membrane hydration were observed after changing the bath pH or by applying an electric field to modify the intramembrane ionic environment and fixed charge density. A relatively slow swelling process and more rapid shrinking for both chemical and electrical modulation of the intramembrane pH are observed. The model indicates that retardation of membrane swelling is dominated by diffusion-limited reaction of H+ ions with membrane charge groups, and that the more rapid shrinking is limited primarily by mechanical processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry