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Characterization of Water Distribution in Xanthan-Curdlan Hydrogel Complex Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Relaxometry, Rheology, and Scanning Electron Microscopy

WILLIAMS, Patrick D.
Öztop, Halil Mecit
MCCARTHY, Michael J.
MCCARTHY, Kathryn L.
LO, Y. Martin
Xanthan-curdlan hydrogel complex (XCHC) has been shown capable of retaining moisture up to 5 freeze-thaw cycles (FTCs); however, moisture distribution in the complex in relation to the hydrogel composition and structure remains uncharacterized. In the present study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxometry, rheology, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used to examine the effect of water distribution and interaction with 2.0% aqueous solutions of xanthan, curdlan, and XCHC consisting of equal amounts of both polysaccharides. A gel structure with an indication of syneresis was clearly seen in the MR image of curdlan alone, whereas the distribution of protons throughout xanthan and XCHC samples remained homogeneous and showed no detectable syneresis. The three-dimensional network, indicated by frequency sweeps, of curdlan was responsible for curdlan's gel structure. The frequency sweep and slope of the storage modulus (G') of XCHC was significantly closer to curdlan with higher elasticity and less dependency upon angular frequency than xanthan alone. The reduction in XCHC dynamic moduli (G' and G '') compared to curdlan could be attributed to the formation of wavy layers instead of a fully cured three-dimensional structure. Addition of xanthan to curdlan restricted XCHC spin-spin relaxation time (T-2) to intermediate and slower exchange regimes, namely approximately 110 and 342 ms, respectively, promoting the polymer's interaction with water while inhibiting interpolymer interactions found in curdlan. A 3rd proton pool with the slowest T-2 seen in curdlan was not found in XCHC, correlating to the absence of syneresis.