In this bizarre short film, we get to see a battle between dissolution and absorption. I think the Chemical Bouillon team has coated hydrogel beads in a layer of paint and then immersed them in water. As the beads absorb water, they expand and grow, tearing their fragile outer layer of paint to smithereens.
One thing that struck me when watching several of the sequences is just how regular the hole spacing in the paint is for the round hydrogels. That hints at an orderly breakdown in the solid paint layer while the interior hydrogel polymer symmetrically expands. It’s a little like watching holes grow in a splash curtain. (Video and image credit: Chemical Bouillon)