Lower critical solution temperature tuning and swelling behaviours of NVCL-based hydrogels for potential 4DF printing applications.
Tie, Billy Shu Hieng
Geever, Luke M.
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The phase transitions of poly (N-vinyl caprolactam) (PNVCL) hydrogels are currently under investigation as possible materials for biomedical applications thanks to their thermosensitive properties. This study aims to use the photopolymerisation process to simulate the 4D printing process. NVCL-based polymers with different thermal properties and swellability were prepared to explore the possibility of synthetic hydrogels being used for 4D printing. In this contribution, the thermal behaviours of novel photopolymerised NVCL-based hydrogels were analysed. The lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of the physically crosslinked gels was detected using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy, and cloud point measurement. The chemical structure of the xerogels was characterised by means of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Pulsatile swelling studies indicated that the hydrogels had thermo-reversible properties. As a result, the effect of varying the macromolecular monomer concentration was apparent. The phase transition temperature is increased when different concentrations of hydrophilic monomers are incorporated. The transition temperature of the hydrogels may allow for excellent flexibility in tailoring transition for specific applications, while the swelling and deswelling behaviour of the gels is strongly temperature- and monomer feed ratio-dependent.
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