Introduction to Agarose gel
Agarose is one of the two principal components of agar, and is purified from agar by removing agar’s other component, agaropectin.
Chemistry – Agarose, the gelling fraction, is a neutral linear molecule essentially free of sulfates, consisting of chains of repeating alternate units of ß-1,3-linked- D-galactose and a-1,4-linked 3,6-anhydro-L-galactose.
Agarose is a polysaccharide that can be used to form a gel (often used to separate molecules based on size). Basically, agarose behaves like gelatin. Scientists can heat and cool a mixture of agarose to form a gel.
What do we mean by the term ‘gel’?
A gel is a solid jelly-like soft 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. 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 crosslinking within the fluid that gives a gel its structure (hardness) and contributes to the adhesive stick (tack). In this way, gels are a dispersion of molecules of a liquid within a solid medium. The word gel was coined by 19th-century Scottish chemist Thomas Graham by clipping from gelatine.
Use of Agarose gel in cleaning
Agarose gels, through capillary action, can be used as a slow, controlled cleaning method.
It has been established that agarose gels can be the best method for cleaning in following cases:
- if the textile requires a special chemical compound for stain removal, such as enzymes,
- for stains on textiles in danger of dye bleed
- controlled or spot cleaning where there are small exposed areas of textile in between metal thread embroidery.