Welcome to the friendliest gardening forum in cyberspace.
I understand what you are talking about, since I had background in chemistry in college although I pursued a career in the business world. I haven't dabbled in a lab scene since I left school. I do have a project which require chemicals, but haven't devoted enough time for research. Maybe if time permit we can exchange ideas.
I glanced at your Thesis on "A distributed Fiber Optic Sensor for Hydrocarbon Detection". Cool.
In 2000, I tested a few bags of something similar to a water gel to water plants
when on vacation or away from home. I am sorry I forgot the brand name. If I remember correctly, one bag per plant
lasts about a week.
I hope you enjoy your visit at The Gardener's Forum enough to stay. We love to hear about your Hydrogel and it's practical applications. If you need help in testing this particular invention in the US, maybe I can help. I can't speak for other members, I am sure they'll let you know if they are interested.