Frozen State of Sephadex ® Gels of Different Crosslink Density Analyzed by X-ray Computed Tomography and X-ray Diffraction

Gels. 2018 May 18;4(2):44. doi: 10.3390/gels4020044.

Abstract

Water in Sephadex® (crosslinked dextran) gels is known to indicate different freezing behavior which is dependent on the density of the crosslinks, and water in a Sephadex® G25 gel remains partially unfrozen during cooling and crystallizes during rewarming. The mechanism of anomalous ice crystallization during rewarming is still unclear. The objective of this study is to observe the ice grains that form in Sephadex® beads and to comprehend their frozen state with a focus on the ice crystallization during rewarming. Sephadex® beads containing 50 wt % water were prepared and used for the measurements. The observation of the ice grains was carried out by using synchrotron radiation-sourced X-ray CT (computed tomography). XRD (X-ray diffraction) analysis was also conducted to investigate the frozen state. As a result, ice grains that were larger than ~1 μm were hardly observed after the slow cooling of Sephadex® beads, except in the G25 beads. However, at the occurrence of ice crystallization during rewarming, ice grains that were larger than 10 μm appeared in the G25 beads. Using XRD, it was found that small incomplete ice crystals were formed in G25 beads and the presence of glassy water was indicated in the gel. In conclusion, the size and distribution of ice grains that formed in Sephadex® beads were different depending on the density of the crosslinks.

Keywords: Sephadex® (crosslinked dextran); X-ray CT; XRD; crosslink density (density of crosslinks); glassy water; ice crystallization during rewarming; ice grain.