Bioinspired Strong and Highly Porous Glass Scaffolds

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Abstract

The quest for more efficient energy-related technologies is driving the development of porous and high-performance structural materials with exceptional mechanical strength. Natural materials achieve their strength through complex hierarchical designs and anisotropic structures that are extremely difficult to replicate synthetically. We emulate nature’s design by direct-ink-write assembling of glass scaffolds with a periodic pattern, and controlled sintering of the filaments into anisotropic constructs similar to biological materials. The final product is a porous glass scaffold with a compressive strength (136 MPa) comparable to that of cortical bone and a porosity (60%) comparable to that of trabecular bone. The strength of this porous glass scaffold is ∼100 times that of polymer scaffolds and 4–5 times that of ceramic and glass scaffolds with comparable porosities reported elsewhere. The ability to create both porous and strong structures opens a new avenue for fabricating scaffolds for a broad array of applications, including tissue engineering, filtration, lightweight composites, and catalyst support.

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