Heterogeneity of Network Structures and Water Dynamics in κ-Carrageenan Gels Probed by Nanoparticle Diffusometry
Journal article, 2018
A set of functionalized nanoparticles (PEGylated dendrimers, d = 2.8-11 nm) was used to probe the structural heterogeneity in Na+/K+ induced κ-carrageenan gels. The self-diffusion behavior of these nanoparticles as observed by 1H pulsed-field gradient NMR, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, and raster image correlation spectroscopy revealed a fast and a slow component, pointing toward microstructural heterogeneity in the gel network. The self-diffusion behavior of the faster nanoparticles could be modeled with obstruction by a coarse network (average mesh size <100 nm), while the slower-diffusing nanoparticles are trapped in a dense network (lower mesh size limit of 4.6 nm). Overhauser dynamic nuclear polarization-enhanced NMR relaxometry revealed a reduced local solvent water diffusivity near 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-1-oxyl (TEMPO)-labeled nanoparticles trapped in the dense network, showing that heterogeneity in the physical network is also reflected in heterogeneous self-diffusivity of water. The observed heterogeneity in mesh sizes and in water self-diffusivity is of interest for understanding and modeling of transport through and release of solutes from heterogeneous biopolymer gels.