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Issue 6, 2011
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Swelling behavior of nanoscale, shape- and size-specific, hydrogel particles fabricated using imprint lithography

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Abstract

Recently a number of hydrogel-based micro- and nanoscale drug carriers have been reported including top down fabricated, highly monodisperse nanoparticles of specific sizes and shapes. One critical question on such approaches is whether in vivo swelling of the nanoparticles could considerably alter their geometry to a point where the potential benefit of controlling size or shape could not be realized. Little has been reported on experimental characterization of the swelling behavior of nanoscale hydrogel structures, and current theoretical understanding is largely based on bulk hydrogel systems. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) capsules, we have characterized the swelling behavior of nano-imprinted hydrogel particles of different sizes and aspect ratios. Our results indicate a size-dependent swelling which can be attributed to the effect of substrate constraint of as-fabricated particles, when the particles are still attached to the imprinting substrate. Numerical simulations based on a recently developed field theory and a nonlinear finite element method were conducted to illustrate the constraint effect on swelling and drying behavior of substrate-supported hydrogel particles of specific geometries, and compared closely with experimental measurements. Further, we present a theoretical model that predicts the size-dependent swelling behavior for unconstrained sub-micron hydrogel particles due to the effect of surface tension. Both experimental and theoretical results suggest that hydrogel swelling does not significantly alter the shape and size of highly crosslinked nanoscale hydrogel particles used in the present study.

Graphical abstract: Swelling behavior of nanoscale, shape- and size-specific, hydrogel particles fabricated using imprint lithography

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Oct 2010, accepted on 05 Jan 2011 and first published on 01 Feb 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0SM01185A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2011,7, 2879-2887

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    Swelling behavior of nanoscale, shape- and size-specific, hydrogel particles fabricated using imprint lithography

    M. Caldorera-Moore, M. K. Kang, Z. Moore, V. Singh, S. V. Sreenivasan, L. Shi, R. Huang and K. Roy, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 2879
    DOI: 10.1039/C0SM01185A

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