Authors Da Silva, A.C. ; Wang, J. ; Minev, I.R.
Title Electro-assisted printing of soft hydrogels via controlled electrochemical reactions
Date 15.03.2022
Number 60182
Abstract Hydrogels underpin many applications in tissue engineering, cell encapsulation, drug delivery and bioelectronics. Methods improving control over gelation mechanisms and patterning are still needed. Here we explore a less-known gelation approach relying on sequential electrochemical–chemical–chemical (ECC) reactions. An ionic species and/or molecule in solution is oxidised over a conductive surface at a specific electric potential. The oxidation generates an intermediate species that reacts with a macromolecule, forming a hydrogel at the electrode–electrolyte interface. We introduce potentiostatic control over this process, allowing the selection of gelation reactions and control of hydrogel growth rate. In chitosan and alginate systems, we demonstrate precipitation, covalent and ionic gelation mechanisms. The method can be applied in the polymerisation of hybrid systems consisting of more than one polymer. We demonstrate concomitant deposition of the conductive polymer Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and alginate. Deposition of the hydrogels occurs in small droplets held between a conductive plate (working electrode, WE), a printing nozzle (counter electrode, CE) and a pseudoreference electrode (reference electrode, RE). We install this setup on a commercial 3D printer to demonstrate patterning of adherent hydrogels on gold and flexible ITO foils. Electro-assisted printing may contribute to the integration of well-defined hydrogels on hybrid electronic-hydrogel devices for bioelectronics applications.
Publisher Nature Communications
Citation Nature Communications 13 (2022) 1353

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