, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 4331–4343 | Cite as

Determination of absorption and structural properties of cellulose-based hydrogel via ultrasonic pulse-echo time-of-flight approach

  • Leonardo LamannaEmail author
  • Francesco RizziEmail author
  • Christian DemitriEmail author
  • Marco Pisanello
  • Elisa Scarpa
  • Antonio Qualtieri
  • Alessandro Sannino
  • Massimo De Vittorio
Original Paper


Biodegradable cellulose-based hydrogels are attracting increasing interest in the academic and industrial fields thanks to their high swelling capacity and reproducibility, which allow many novel applications. These properties are enabled by amplification effect of their sensitiveness on a molecular level, translated into macroscopic effects such as a change in swelling degree. The monitoring of the hydrogel state is a crucial step for understanding the response of the hydrogel to external environment. Accordingly, the major aim of this study is to exploit ultrasound to characterize the swelling and degradation of cellulose-based hydrogel with different blend of molecular weight and degree of substitutions. The ultrasonic sensor used herein relies on the determination of a Pulse-echo time of flight. This technique provides dimensional information, thanks to its capability of monitoring the thickness of the swollen/unswollen hydrogel during sorption mechanism. Furthermore, by combining these data with a rheological characterization, the degree of crosslink and its modification during multiple swelling/deswelling cycles (due to ion strength variation) has been monitored. This technique could be an effective, alternative, fast and non-destructive method for real-time hydrogel characterization.

Graphical Abstract


Cellulose-based hydrogel Ultrasound Time-of-flight Pulse-echo 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies, Istituto Italiano di TecnologiaArnesanoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Engineering for InnovationUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

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