Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Characterization of the Properties of Photopatterned Hydrogels for Use in Regenerative Medicine Public Deposited

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  • The goal of this thesis was to locally photopattern cytocompatible hydrogels to exhibit a wide range of mechanical properties and to probe the fundamental parameters governing these materials printed via stereolithography (SLA). Fabricating cell-laden structures with locally defined mechanical properties is non-trivial because the use of multiple precursor materials is wasteful, slow, and can lead to cell-death. To investigate the range of mechanical properties a single precursor solution can produce, I initially formed a single-network hydrogel and cyclically in- swelled fresh precursor solution followed by photo-exposure of the swollen gel (“swelling + exposure” or SE cycle). Because transport (i.e., diffusion and swelling) can occur on the same time scale as photopolymerization reaction kinetics, I first characterized the variable modulus hydrogels in bulk to isolate the reaction kinetics. In these experiments, I demonstrated the ability modify the mechanical and chemical (i.e., compressive modulus, toughness, crosslink density, swelling ratio) properties by up to 10-fold using only 2-4 SE cycles. I then used the understanding gained via these bulk experiments to locally photopattern the elastic modulus of a cytocompatible hydrogel with pixel-limited resolution (~10s μm) employing a custom SLA system. Here I demonstrated the ability to fabricate hydrogels with a 500% elastic moduli increase with respect to the unpatterned hydrogel using atomic force microscopy. I monitored monomer attachment to the existing matrix as a function of SE cycle using confocal fluorescence microscopy to characterize the shape and size of printed features. I validated that the dependence of these features on material and processing conditions could be explained by a first-order reaction/diffusion model. With this understanding, I fabricated SLA 3D printed, soft, cytocompatible hydrogels (~10s kPa) with ~250 µm channels in addition to fabricating 3D printed stiff, cytocompatible hydrogels (39 MPa) both with ~10 µm resolution.
Date Issued
  • 2017
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Last Modified
  • 2019-11-14
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