(381b) Nacre-Inspired Composite Gels for Biomedical Applications
Inspired by these features, we have developed robust, flexible materials with self-adaptive and self-healing properties. Polymer hydrogels were incorporated with functional nanoparticles to produce composites with unique physicochemical and mechanical properties. 3D printing was utilized as an effective technique to combine the nanoparticles with polymer gels, with greater dimension control. Moulds with hexagonal wells were printed and filled with a âhardâ component comprising of the nanoparticles in the polymer gel. The compressibility of these composites was customized using a crosslinking agent. These hexagonal templated materials were then arranged into layered structures, which were held together by a âsoftâ, flexible polymer matrix. The physical and mechanical properties of these composites could be greatly varied by changing the polymer concentration of the soft matrix. Due to 3D printing, a wide range of dimensions could be achieved for making such composites. Techniques were also developed that allowed 3D printing of the nanoparticles directly onto polymer gels, according to desired patterns. These novel composites were extensively characterized (TEM, SEM/EDX, FTIR, tensile strength, compressibility, and other techniques to be discussed in the presentation) and displayed enhanced capabilities in mechanical strength, self-adaptation to environmental stresses and in self-healing ability. These features, together with biocompatibility, allow for a myriad of biomedical applications.