A series of hydrogels based on poly(ethylenglycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMEMA) is synthesized using macromonomers of three different molecular weights, in combination with varied degrees of chemical crosslinking. The effects of PEGMEMA, initiator, and crosslinker concentrations on gel yield and swelling properties are studied. In addition, the chemical structure of the gels is characterized by FTIR and solid-state NMR spectra. The swelling and rheological behaviors of hydrogels as well as protein partitioning into the gels are discussed in terms of the network mesh size. Low protein sorption and bacteria deposition tendencies indicate that PEGMEMA-based hydrogels could be highly beneficial for uses as fouling-resistant materials, for instance, as protective coatings for desalination membranes. The storage modulus correlates well with the swelling ratio for different hydrogels prepared from a variety of PEG monomers with different degrees of crosslinking, and these properties show a profound influence on protein uptake and bacterial adhesion. Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
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