Alginates: Biology and Applications

Volume 13 of the series Microbiology Monographs pp 1-53


Material Properties of Alginates

  • Ivan DonatiAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, University of Trieste Email author 
  • , Sergio PaolettiAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, University of Trieste

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The present chapter deals with the description of the main characteristics of alginate as a material. Sources and the chemical structure of the polysaccharide are discussed. Particular attention is devoted to the definition of the comonomer sequence and its determination together with chemical and biochemical modifications of alginate. The stability of alginate molecules is discussed from the point of view of the effect on the polymer molecular weight. The characteristics of the polysaccharide in solution are tackled looking both at the equilibrium properties (thermodynamic properties) and at the nonequilibrium ones (viscosity in dilute and semidilute solution). The second part of this contribution is focused on the analyses of the ion-binding properties of alginate towards divalent ions. A general description of the “egg-box” model is provided together with a brief overview of recent findings on this topic. The mechanism of hydrogel formation and the description of the mechanical properties of alginate gels in small and large deformation ranges are addressed.