Anisotropic dehydration of hydrogel surfaces

Kaklamani, Georgia; Cheneler, David; Grover, Liam M.; Adams, Michael J.; Anastasiadis, Spiros H. and Bowen, James (2017). Anisotropic dehydration of hydrogel surfaces. Progress in Biomaterials, 6(4) pp. 157–164.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40204-017-0075-9

Abstract

Efforts to develop tissue-engineered skin for regenerative medicine have explored natural, synthetic, and hybrid hydrogels. The creation of a bilayer material, with the stratification exhibited by native skin is a complex problem. The mechanically robust, waterproof epidermis presents the stratum corneum at the tissue/air interface, which confers many of these protective properties. In this work we explore the effect of high temperatures on alginate hydrogels, which are widely employed for tissue engineering due to their excellent mechanical properties and cellular compatibility. In particular, we investigate the rapid dehydration of the hydrogel surface which occurs following local exposure to heated surfaces with temperatures in the range 100-200 oC. We report the creation of a mechanically strengthened hydrogel surface, with improved puncture resistance and increased coefficient of friction, compared to the unheated surface. The use of a mechanical restraint during heating promoted differences in the rate of mass loss; the rate of temperature increase within the hydrogel, in the presence and absence of restraint, is simulated and discussed. It is hoped that the results will be of use in the development of processes suitable for preparing skin-like analogues; application areas could include wound healing and skin restoration.

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