Creation and characterisation of double network hydrogels with mechanical properties matching tissue for bioelectronic applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Hydrogels can be made in biocompatible or biodegradable forms using widely available chemical routes. Double network hydrogels, a form of interpenetrating network in which a second network conveys mechanical strength to the first, are a relatively new area of research and their mechanical properties are remarkable. In this project, double network hydrogels will be synthesised in a variety of forms to create robust structures that can match both biological tissue and be easily integrated with electrolyte-based transistors, which will work as sensors and actuators.

The project will be run in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Modena and Regio Emilia in Italy, where a substantial organic bioelectronics research effort is underway.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509735/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1798023 Studentship EP/N509735/1 01/10/2016 30/06/2020 Emily Hall
Description As the award is still ongoing, there are limited key findings to report, however the work undertaken so far has resulted in the development of biocompatible and biodegradable material for use in organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs) based on hyaluronic acid (HA) and chondroitin sulfate (CS). For use as the electronically active polymer within the device, PEDOT doped with CS and HA was synthesised and the I/V characteristics were recorded giving sheet resistances around 4.7 kO ?-1 which were comparable to previous work by other groups. Additionally, it has been shown that these materials can be used in OECT type architectures and their properties have been established, as well as the creation of 3D scaffolds from PEDOT:CS and PEDOT:HA.
HA hydrogels have been synthesised using an EDC coupling procedure and, after mechanical testing, and were found to have elastic moduli between 2 and 120 kPa, matching those of various structures in the central nervous system. The degradation behaviour of the HA hydrogels was also characterised.

The work towards combining the HA hydrogels with PEDOT:HA and/or PEDOT:CS, and investigations into the OECT behaviour, is ongoing.
Exploitation Route The project is drawing to a close, and there are a number of directions the work could be taken. In particular, the use of PEDOT doped with biomaterials for use in organic bioelectronics in the body is of interest, due to their favourable mechanical properties, biocompatibility, and the fact they show enough electronic activity to be of interest. This work could lead to further development within the ever growing field of bioelectronics and the findings could be used to develop more specific useful devices in future, such as uses in conducting cell scaffolds for biological research or as OECTs in the central nervous system used to monitor or regulate activity.
Sectors Electronics,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology