Multiscale Mapping of Hydration and Erosion Pathways in Biodegradable Polymers

     Biomaterials are invariably in contact with water, and understanding hydration is a critical factor when designing biodegradable polymers for specific applications.  Besides affecting the mechanical properties, in degradable biomaterials, the initial process of hydration affects the subsequent process of degradation, as well as cell-substrate interactions and drug release characteristics.  Mechanisms of hydration are not understood in sufficient detail to be able to predict the performance of tissue scaffolds, drug delivery devices and biomedical implants over time.  

     The Kohn  Lab research attempts to map the water distribution and the subsequent erosion of a degradable implant at different time scales using several measurement techniques (Figure 1). This will lead to a detailed understanding of the process of hydration, the influence of material composition, temperature, pH and other environmental factors,  and will enable biomedical engineers who use degradable polymers to design implants, tissue scaffolds, and drug delivery devices.


Figure 1. (left), Distribution of water in random multiblock copolymer with hydrophobic and hydrophilic blocks; (middle), Relative D2O content as seen in confocal Raman spectroscopy (Courtesy of Rich Mendelsohn and Carol Flach of Rutgers University); (right), Porous morphology in SEM.

Project Leader: Sanjeeva Murthy, PhD
Funding source: RESBIO - The National Resource for Polymeric Biomaterials via National Institutes of Health (NIH grant EB001046).