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This invention involves the design of biocompatible hydrogels and emulsion-laden hydrogels from a natural polysaccharide found in brown algae, Alginate (ALG), as heteronucleant. Investigators demonstrate that nucleation kinetics of alginate hydrogels is tightly controlled by increasing or decreasing alginate concentrations. In addition, alginate hydrogels are able to encapsulate large amounts of drugs with vastly different water solubilities.