Polymeric hydrogels swell by absorbing a remarkable amount of water. These materials are widely used in a variety of engineering applications, and predicting the rates of swelling and drying is a key aspect of designing for these applications, but these processes are complex and highly nonlinear. Using a mathematical model and a series of experiments, we showed here that swelling and drying are inherently transient and strikingly different. These results pave the way for more sophisticated prediction and control of swelling and drying.
Read the paper: Bertrand et al., PRApplied 2016