Gel

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A gel (from the lat. gelu—freezing, cold, ice or gelatus—frozen, immobile) is a solid, jelly-like material that can have properties ranging from soft and weak to hard and tough. Gels are defined as a substantially dilute cross-linked system, which exhibits no flow when in the steady-state.[1] By weight, gels are mostly liquid, yet they behave like solids due to a three-dimensional cross-linked network within the liquid. It is the crosslinks within the fluid that give a gel its structure (hardness) and contribute to stickiness (tack). In this way gels are a dispersion of molecules or particles within a liquid in which the solid is the continuous phase and the liquid is the discontinuous phase.

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Composition

Gels consist of a solid three-dimensional network that spans the volume of a liquid medium and ensnares it through surface tension effects. This internal network structure may result from physical bonds (physical gels) or chemical bonds (chemical gels), as well as crystallites or other junctions that remain intact within the extending fluid. Virtually any fluid can be used as an extender including water (hydrogels), oil, and air (aerogel). Both by weight and volume, gels are mostly fluid in composition and thus exhibit densities similar to those of their constituent liquids. Edible jelly is a common example of a hydrogel and has approximately the density of water.

Cationic polymers

Cationic polymers are positively charged polymers. Their positive charges prevent the formation of coiled polymers. This allows them to contribute more to viscosity in their stretched state, because the stretched-out polymer takes up more space than a coiled polymer and this resists the flow of solvent molecules around it. Cationic polymers are a main functional component of hair gel, because the positive charged polymers also bind the negatively charged amino acids on the surface of the keratin molecules in the hair. More complicated polymer formulas exist, e.g., a copolymer of vinylpyrrolidone, methacrylamide, and hydrogel N-vinylimidazole.[2] In certain concentrations, dispersions of lyophilic colloids tend to form solid masses, particularly when the solubility of the colloidal material is reduced by change in temperature. These semi-solids are known as gels.

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