Microstructured Elastomer-PEG Hydrogels via Kinetic Capture of Aqueous Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation.

Academic Article


  • Heterogeneous hydrogels with desired matrix complexity are studied for a variety of biomimetic materials. Despite the range of such microstructured materials described, few methods permit independent control over microstructure and microscale mechanics by precisely controlled, single-step processing methods. Here, a phototriggered crosslinking methodology that traps microstructures in liquid-liquid phase-separated solutions of a highly elastomeric resilin-like polypeptide (RLP) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is reported. RLP-rich domains of various diameters can be trapped in a PEG continuous phase, with the kinetics of domain maturation dependent on the degree of acrylation. The chemical composition of both hydrogel phases over time is assessed via in situ hyperspectral coherent Raman microscopy, with equilibrium concentrations consistent with the compositions derived from NMR-measured coexistence curves. Atomic force microscopy reveals that the local mechanical properties of the two phases evolve over time, even as the bulk modulus of the material remains constant, showing that the strategy permits control of mechanical properties on micrometer length scales, of relevance in generating mechanically robust materials for a range of applications. As one example, the successful encapsulation, localization, and survival of primary cells are demonstrated and suggest the potential application of phase-separated RLP-PEG hydrogels in regenerative medicine applications.
  • Authors

  • Lau, Hang Kuen
  • Paul, Alexandra
  • Sidhu, Ishnoor
  • Li, Linqing
  • Sabanayagam, Chandran R
  • Parekh, Sapun H
  • Kiick, Kristi L
  • Publication Date

  • June 2018
  • Published In

  • Advanced Science  Journal
  • Keywords

  • hydrogels
  • liquid–liquid phase separation
  • micromechanical
  • polypeptides
  • resilin
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1701010
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 6