Composite Hydrogels with Tunable Anisotropic Morphologies and Mechanical Properties Academic Article uri icon

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  • Fabrication of anisotropic hydrogels exhibiting direction-dependent structure and properties have attracted great interest in biomimicking, tissue engineering and bioseparation. Herein, we report a single-step freeze casting-based fabrication of structurally and mechanically anisotropic aerogels and hydrogels composed of hydrazone cross-linked poly(oligoethylene glycol methacrylate) (POEGMA) and cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). We show that by controlling the composition of the CNC/POEGMA dispersion and the freeze casting temperature, aerogels with fibrillar, columnar, or lamellar morphologies can be produced. Small-angle X-ray scattering experiments show that the anisotropy of the struc- ture originates from the alignment of the mesostructures, rather than the CNC building blocks. The composite hydrogels show high structural and mechanical integrity and a strong variation in Young's moduli in orthogonal directions. The controllable morphology and hydrogel anisotropy, coupled with hydrazone cross-linking and biocompatibility of CNCs and POEGMA, provide a versatile platform for the preparation of anisotropic hydrogels.


  • Chau, Mokit
  • De France, Kevin J
  • Kopera, Bernd
  • Machado, Vanessa R
  • Rosenfeldt, Sabine
  • Reyes, Laura
  • Chan, Katelyn JW
  • Förster, Stephan
  • Cranston, Emily
  • Hoare, Todd Ryan
  • Kumacheva, Eugenia

publication date

  • May 24, 2016