Shape memory polymers with visible and near-infrared imaging modalities: synthesis, characterization and in vitro analysis†
Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are promising for non-invasive medical devices and tissue scaffolds, but are limited by a lack of visibility under clinical imaging. Fluorescent dyes are an alternative to radiocontrast agents in medical applications, they can be utilized in chemical sensors and monitors and may be anti-microbial agents. Thus, a fluorescent SMP could be a highly valuable biomaterial system. Here, we show that four fluorescent dyes (phloxine B (PhB), eosin Y (Eos), indocyanine green (IcG), and calcein (Cal)) can be crosslinked into the polymer backbone to enhance material optical properties without alteration of shape memory and thermomechanical properties. Examinations of the emission wavelengths of the materials compared with the dye solutions showed a slight red shift in the peak emissions, indicative of crosslinking of the material. Quantitative analysis revealed that PhB enabled visibility through 1 cm of blood and through soft tissue. We also demonstrate the utility of these methods in combination with radio-opaque microparticle additives and the use of laser-induced shape recovery to allow for rapid shape recovery below the glass transition temperature. The crosslinking of fluorescent dyes into the SMP enables tuning of physical properties and shape memory and independently of the fluorescence functionality. This fluorescent SMP biomaterial system allows for use of multiple imaging modalities with potential application in minimally invasive medical devices.