Hydrogels are increasingly being recognized as having potential in bio‐compatible applications. In previous work, we investigated the feasibility of poly(ethylene glycol)‐dimethacrylate (PEG‐1000‐DMA) and poly(ethylene glycol)‐diacrylate (PEG‐400‐DA) polymerized using either a chemical initiator (C) or a photoinitiator (P) to encapsulate and stabilize biomimetic membranes for novel separation technologies or biosensor applications. In this paper, we have investigated the electrochemical properties of the hydrogels used for membrane encapsulation. Specifically, we studied the crosslinked hydrogels by using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), and we demonstrated that chemically crosslinked hydrogels had lower values for the effective electrical resistance and higher values for the electrical capacitance compared with hydrogels with photoinitiated crosslinking. Transport numbers were obtained using electromotive force measurements and demonstrated that at low salt concentrations, both PEG‐400‐DA‐C and PEG‐400‐DA‐P hydrogels presented an electropositive character whereas PEG‐1000‐DMA‐P was approximately neutral and PEG‐1000‐DMA‐C showed electronegative character. Sodium transport numbers approached the bulk NaCl electrolyte value at high salt concentrations for all hydrogels, indicating screening of fixed charges in the hydrogels. The average salt diffusional permeability 〈Ps〉 and water permeability 〈Pw〉 were found to correlate with EIS results. Both PEG‐1000‐DMA‐C and PEG‐400‐DA‐C had higher 〈Ps〉 and 〈Pw〉 values than PEG‐1000‐DMA‐P and PEG‐400‐DA‐P hydrogels. In conclusion, our results show that hydrogel electrochemical properties can be controlled by the choice of polymer and type of crosslinking used and that their water and salt permeability properties are congruent with the use of hydrogels for biomimetic membrane encapsulation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- Biomimetic application
- Impedance spectroscopy
- Biomimetic membrane encapsulation