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Reinforcing biopolymer hydrogels with ionic-covalent entanglement hydrogel microspheres

Authors

  • Damian Martin Kirchmajer,

    1. Soft Materials Group, School of Chemistry and Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, AIIM Facility, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Marc in het Panhuis

    Corresponding author
    1. Soft Materials Group, School of Chemistry and Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, AIIM Facility, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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ABSTRACT

Microscopic hydrogel spheres can be used to improve the mechanical properties of conventional hydrogels. We prepared ionic-covalent entanglement (ICE) hydrogel microspheres of calcium cross-linked gellan gum and genipin cross-linked gelatin using a water-in-oil emulsion-based processing technique. The method was optimized to produce microspheres with number average diameter 4 ± 1 µm. These ICE microspheres were used to reinforce gelatin hydrogels and improve their compressive mechanical properties. The strongest microsphere reinforced hydrogels possessed a compressive mechanical stress at failure of 0.50 ± 0.1 MPa and a compressive secant modulus of 0.18 ± 0.02 MPa. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40557.

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