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Control of the pore architecture in three-dimensional hydroxyapatite-reinforced hydrogel scaffolds

Author(s): Jesús Román, María Victoria Cabañas, Juan Peña and María Vallet-Regí

Journal: Science and Technology of Advanced Materials
ISSN 1468-6996

Volume: 12;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 045003;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Hydrogels (gellan or agarose) reinforced with nanocrystalline carbonated hydroxyapatite (nCHA) were prepared by the GELPOR3D technique. This simple method is characterized by compositional flexibility; it does not require expensive equipment, thermal treatment, or aggressive or toxic solvents, and yields a three-dimensional (3D) network of interconnected pores 300–900 μm in size. In addition, an interconnected porosity is generated, yielding a hierarchical porous architecture from the macro to the molecular scale. This porosity depends on both the drying/preservation technology (freeze drying or oven drying at 37 circleC) and on the content and microstructure of the reinforcing ceramic. For freeze-dried samples, the porosities were approximately 30, 66 and below 3% for pore sizes of 600–900 μm, 100–200 μm and 50–100 nm, respectively. The pore structure depends much on the ceramic content, so that higher contents lead to the disappearance of the characteristic honeycomb structure observed in low-ceramic scaffolds and to a lower fraction of the 100–200-μm-sized pores. The nature of the hydrogel did not affect the pore size distribution but was crucial for the behavior of the scaffolds in a hydrated medium: gellan-containing scaffolds showed a higher swelling degree owing to the presence of more hydrophilic groups.
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