Highly ordered and tunable polyHIPEs by using microfluidics†
We demonstrate how to generate highly ordered porous matrices from dextran-methacrylate (DEX-MA) using microfluidics. We use a flow focusing device to inject an aqueous solution of DEX-MA and surfactant to break the flow of an organic solvent (cyclohexane) into monodisperse droplets at a high volume fraction (above 74% v/v) to form an ordered high internal phase emulsion (HIPE). We collect the crystalline HIPE structure and freeze it by gelling. The resulting polyHIPEs are characterized by an interconnected and ordered morphology. The size of pores and interconnects ranges between hundreds and tens of micrometers, respectively. The technique that we describe allows for precise tuning of all the structural parameters of the matrices, including their porosity, the size of the pores and the lumen of interconnects between the pores. The resulting ordered and precisely tailored HIPE gels represent a new class of scaffolds for applications in tissue engineering.