Hydration of Gelatin Molecules in Glycerol-Water Solvent and Phase Diagram of Gelatin Organogels

J Phys Chem B. 2011 Jun 9;115(22):7332-40. doi: 10.1021/jp201877d. Epub 2011 May 12.


We present a systematic investigation of hydration and gelation of the polypeptide gelatin in water-glycerol mixed solvent (glycerol solutions). Raman spectroscopy results indicated enhancement in water structure in glycerol solutions and the depletion of glycerol density close to hydration sheath of the protein molecule. Gelation concentration (c(g)) was observed to decrease from 1.92 to 1.15% (w/v) while the gelation temperature (T(g)) was observed to increase from 31.4 to 40.7 °C with increase in glycerol concentration. Data on hand established the formation of organogels having interconnected networks, and the universal gelation mechanism could be described through an anomalous percolation model. The viscosity of sol diverged as η ∼ (1 - c(g)/c)(-k) as c(g) was approached from below (c < c(g)), while the elastic storage modulus grew as G' ∼ (c/c(g) - 1)(t) (for c > c(g)). It is important to note that values determined for critical exponents k and t were universal; that is, they did not depend on the microscopic details. The measured values were k = 0.38 ± 0.10 and t = 0.92 ± 0.17 whereas the percolation model predicts k = 0.7-1.3 and t = 1.9. Isothermal frequency sweep studies showed power-law dependence of gel storage modulus (G') and loss modulus (G'') on oscillation frequency ω given as G'(ω) ∼ ω(n') and G''(ω) ∼ ω(n''), and consistent with percolation model prediction it was found that n' ≈ n'' ≈ δ ≈ 0.73 close to gelation concentration. We propose a unique 3D phase diagram for the gelatin organogels. Circular dichroism data revealed that the gelatin molecules retained their biological activity in these solvents. Thus, it is shown that the thermomechanical properties of these organogels could be systematically tuned and customized as per application requirement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Circular Dichroism
  • Gelatin / chemistry*
  • Gels / chemistry*
  • Glycerol / chemistry*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman
  • Temperature
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Gels
  • Solvents
  • Water
  • Gelatin
  • Glycerol