Date: 20 Oct 2000

Structure and Applications of Poly(vinyl alcohol) Hydrogels Produced by Conventional Crosslinking or by Freezing/Thawing Methods

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Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is a polymer of great interest because of its many desirable characteristics specifically for various pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. The crystalline nature of PVA has been of specific interest particularly for physically cross-linked hydrogels prepared by repeated cycles of freezing and thawing. This review includes details on the structure and properties of PVA, the synthesis of its hydrogels, the crystallization of PVA, as well as its applications. An analysis of previous work in the development of freezing and thawing processes is presented focusing on the implications of such materials for a variety of applications. PVA blends that have been developed with enhanced properties for specific applications will also be discussed briefly. Finally, the future directions involving the further development of freeze/thawed PVA hydrogels are addressed.