Schultz, Kelly M. Campo-Deano, Laura Baldwin, Aaron D. Kiick, Kristi L. Clasen, Christian Furst, Eric M. # ×
Polymer vol:54 issue:1 pages:363-371
Many hydrogel materials of interest are homogeneous on the micrometer scale. Electrospinning, the formation of sub-micrometer to micrometer di- ameter fibers by a jet of fluid formed under an electric field, is one process being explored to create rich microstructures. However, electrospinning a hydrogel system as it reacts requires an understanding of the gelation ki- netics and corresponding rheology near the liquid-solid transition. In this study, we correlate the structure of electrospun fibers of a covalently cross- linked hydrogelator with the corresponding gelation transition and kinetics. Polyethylene oxide (PEO) is used as a carrier polymer in a chemically cross- linking poly(ethylene glycol)-high molecular weight heparin (PEG-HMWH) hydrogel. Using measurements of gelation kinetics from multiple particle tracking microrheology (MPT), we correlate the material rheology with the the formation of stable fibers. An equilibrated, cross-linked hydrogel is then spun and the PEO is dissolved. In both cases, microstructural features of the electrospun fibers are retained, confirming the covalent nature of the network. The ability to spin fibers of a cross-linking hydrogel system ulti- mately enables the engineering of materials and microstructural length scales suitable for biological applications.