• bacterial cellulose;
  • methacrylate hydrogel;
  • composite;
  • swelling;
  • mechanical properties


Composite hydrogels consisting of nanofibrous bacterial cellulose (BC) embedded in a biocompatible polymeric matrix of various methacrylates were synthesized by UV polymerization using the ‘ever-wet’ technique. The effect of monomer(s) type and ratio, system dilution at polymerization, monomer(s) hydrophilicity, crosslink density and cellulose/hydrogel ratio was investigated. The effect of BC reinforcement on equilibrium swelling depends on whether the neat gel swells more when brought into contact with water. The major improvement achieved by introduction of 1%–2% BC concerns mechanical properties. Compared with neat gels, the storage shear modulus G′ increased by a factor 10-20, and the loss part G″ also rose significantly. The compression modulus ranged from 2 to 5.5 MPa for composites swollen to equilibrium (20-70 wt% water). The BC-hydrogel composites are considered for application in the tissue engineering area. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry