Crosslinking of Hydrophilic Polymers Using Polyperoxides

Hydrogels that can mimic mechanical properties and functions of biological tissue have attracted great interest in tissue engineering and biofabrication. In these fields, new materials and approaches to prepare hydrogels without using toxic starting materials or materials that decompose into toxic compounds remain to be sought after. Here, we report the crosslinking of commercial, unfunctionalized hydrophilic poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) using peroxide copolymers in their melt. The influence of temperature, peroxide copolymer concentration and duration of the crosslinking process has been investigated. The method allows to create hydrogels from unfunctionalized polymers in their melt and to control the mechanical properties of the resulting materials. The design of hydrogels with a suitable mechanical performance is of crucial importance in many existing and potential applications of soft materials, including medical applications.