In the field of tissue engineering, scaffold is the foundation structure that provides the desired mechanical support for the tissue being engineered, surface for cells to attach and spread, and access for nutrient transport crucial for cell viability. The scaffolds are 3D building blocks which are designed and fabricated precisely prior to its implantation to the host tissue. When scaffolds with desired shape and size are fabricated, they can be seeded with cells and appropriate growth factors. After cells show healthy growth within the scaffold, they are implanted into the body with the scaffold to allow full-scale tissue regeneration.
In this research, photolithography is adapted as a fabrication method to generate PEGDA-based structures. In this method, ultra-violet (UV) light is reflected on PEGDA and as a result of the interaction between UV light and precursor solution, PEGDA turns into solid form.
Despite the potential of PEGDA in scaffold applications, the mechanical properties have not been studied in a great extent. Therefore, in this project, the mechanical characterization of PEGDA was conducted for various polymer concentrations. Specimens with 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% PEGDA to water ratio were prepared for compression tests. Our preliminary experimental data results show that, mechanical properties of PEGDA can be controlled by changing the PEGDA to water ratio. Stronger and stiffer structures can be obtained with high PEGDA concentrations while softer structures can be fabricated with reduced PEGDA concentrations.