Using in situ rheology to characterize the microstructure in photopolymerized polyacrylamide gels for DNA electrophoresis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Photopolymerized cross-linked polyacrylamide hydrogels are attractive sieving matrix formulations for DNA electrophoresis owing to their rapid polymerization times and the potential to locally tailor the gel pore structure through spatial variation of illumination intensity. This capability is especially important in microfluidic systems, where photopolymerization allows gel matrices to be precisely positioned within complex microchannel networks. Separation performance is also directly related to the nanoscale gel pore structure, which is in turn strongly influenced by polymerization kinetics. Unfortunately, detailed studies of the interplay among polymerization kinetics, mechanical properties, and structural morphology are lacking in photopolymerized hydrogel systems. In this paper, we address this issue by performing a series of in situ dynamic small-amplitude oscillatory shear measurements during photopolymerization of cross-linked polyacrylamide electrophoresis gels to investigate the relationship between rheology and parameters associated with the gelation environment including UV intensity, monomer and cross-linker composition, and reaction temperature. In general, we find that the storage modulus G' increases with increasing initial monomer concentration, cross-linker concentration, and polymerization temperature. The steady-state value of G', however, exhibits a more complex dependence on UV intensity that varies with gel concentration. A simple model based on rubber elasticity theory is used to obtain estimates of the average gel pore size that are in surprisingly good agreement with corresponding data obtained from analysis of DNA electrophoretic mobility in gels cast under identical polymerization conditions.

published proceedings

  • Electrophoresis

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, J., & Ugaz, V. M.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Jian||Ugaz, Victor M

publication date

  • September 2006