Materials Chemistry

Mechanical Evaluation of Hydrogel-Elastomer Interfaces Generated Through Thiol-Ene Coupling



The formation of hybrid hydrogel-elastomer scaffolds is an attractive strategy for the formation of tissue engineering constructs and microfabricated platforms for advanced in vitro models. The emergence of thiol-ene coupling, in particular radical-based, for the engineering of cell-instructive hydrogels and the design of elastomers raises the possibility of mechanically integrating these structures, without relying on the introduction of additional chemical moieties. However, the bonding of hydrogels (thiol-ene radical or more classic acrylate/methacrylate radical-based) to thiol-ene elastomers and alkene-functional elastomers has not been characterised in detail. In this study, we quantify the tensile mechanical properties of hybrid hydrogel samples formed of two elastomers bonded to a hydrogel material. We examine the impact of radical thiol-ene coupling on the crosslinking of both elastomers (silicone or polyesters) and hydrogels (based on thiol-ene crosslinking or diacrylate chemistry), and on the mechanics and failure behaviour of resulting hybrids. This study demonstrates the strong bonding of thiol-ene hydrogels to alkene-presenting elastomers with a range of chemistries, including silicones and polyesters. Overall, thiol-ene coupling appears as an attractive tool for the generation of strong, mechanically integrated, hybrid structures for a broad range of applications.


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Supplementary material

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Supplementary information
Supplementary information