Dielectric properties of alginate beads and bound water relaxation studied by electrorotation

Mandy Esch, Vladimir L. Sukhorukov, Markus Kürschner, Ulrich Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The electrical and dielectric properties of Ba2+ and Ca2+ cross- linked alginate hydrogel beads were studied by means of single-particle electrorotation. The use of microstructured electrodes allowed the measurements to be performed over a wide range of medium conductivity from about 5 mS/m to 1 S/m. Within a conductivity range, the beads exhibited measurable electrorotation response at frequencies above 0.2 MHz with two well-resolved co- and antifield peaks. With increasing medium conductivity, both peaks shifted toward higher frequency and their magnitudes decreased greatly. The results were analyzed using various dielectric models that consider the beads as homogeneous spheres with conductive loss and allow the complex rotational behavior of beads to be explained in terms of conductivity and permittivity of the hydrogel. The rotation spectra could be fitted very accurately by assuming (a) a linear relationship between the internal hydrogel conductivity and the medium conductivity, and (b) a broad internal dispersion of the hydrogel centered between 20 and 40 MHz. We attribute this dispersion to the relaxation of water bound to the polysaccharide matrix of the beads. The dielectric characterization of alginate hydrogels is of enormous interest for biotechnology and medicine, where alginate beads are widely used for immobilization of cells and enzymes, for drug delivery, and as microcarriers for cell cultivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Alginate beads
  • Bound water
  • Dielectric spectroscopy
  • Dispersion
  • Electrorotation
  • Hydrogel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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