Hydrogels are formed when a three-dimensional polymeric network is loosely crosslinked. They are swollen by water but not dissolved in it. Hydrogels may display reversible sol-gel transitions, induced by changes in the environmental conditions such as temperature, pH, ionic strength, phase separation, wave length of light, crystallinity, etc. Hydrogel is described as smart or intelligent when sharp transition is induced by small change in such conditions. For the shape-memory hydrogels, reversible change in shape may also be induced by such stimuli. The preparation and applications of the molecularly imprinted polymeric hydrogels (MIPs) are illustrated by a few examples. The use of shape sensitive hydrogels in microfluidic is mentioned. Application of hydrogels for chronobiology and chronotherapy is outlined. The conversion of hydrogels into aerogels and their respective properties is discussed. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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