Research on ultrasonography and elastography instrumentation is crucially dependent on the quality of tissue-mimicking phantoms on which the instrumental parameters are tested. The phantoms should ideally possess values of various acoustic parameters corresponding to normal and abnormal tissues of different types and these properties should not change significantly with time. Designing such phantoms requires a molecular level understanding of the material to be used. In this context, polyacrylamide gels made from corresponding monomer, initiator and cross-linker were developed. An understanding of the network structure of these hydrogels at the molecular level was made possible using fluorescence spectroscopy with anilinonaphthylsulfonate as an extrinsic fluorescent probe. TiO2 was used to adjust the acoustic transparency so as to bring the ultrasound reflection parameters close to those of human tissues. It was found that the network structure of poly-acrylamide (PAM) hydrogels as well as their acoustic and viscoelastic properties could be conveniently varied by altering the composition of the components. This understanding at the molecular as well as the bulk level was then used to develop tissue phantoms appropriate for imaging in ultrasound-B and elastography modes. 2012 American Institute of Physics.