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Effect of macromer synthesis time on the properties of the resulting poly(β-amino ester) degradable hydrogel



Poly(β-amino ester) biodegradable hydrogels are common in biomedical applications because of their tunable properties and similarities to natural soft tissue. Previous work has shown property adjustments through the choice of monomers, the ratio between monomers and the addition of a crosslinking component. Here, we show that the reaction time for the creation of the macromer can affect the resulting hydrogel properties, and thus provides another method of tuning properties. Macromer was created through the reaction of isobutylamine with poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (n = 400). The reaction progress was analyzed using IR and GPC analysis. Hydrogels were created through UV photopolymerization from macromers synthesized for 24, 36, and 48 h. The degradation, compressive moduli, and swelling were measured in an aqueous solution. All showed significant differences between hydrogels of different macromer synthesis times. These differences likely stem from the incomplete macromer synthesis reaction and resulting PEG-rich regions in hydrogels from shorter synthesis times. These regions will not readily degrade, but do increase the mechanical properties and extent of swelling. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011