Wire templated electrodeposition of vessel-like structured chitosan hydrogel by using a pulsed electrical signal†
Herein, by performing a templated electrodeposition process with an oscillating electrical signal stimulation, a vessel-like structured chitosan hydrogel (diameter about 0.4 mm) was successfully prepared in the absence of salt conditions. Experimental results demonstrated that the hydrogel growth (e.g. the thickness) is linearly correlated with the imposed charge transfer and can be well quantified by using a theoretical moving front model. Morphological observations indicated that the heterogeneous multilayer structure was spatially and temporally controlled by an externally employed electrical signal sequence while the channel structure could be determined by the shaped electrode. Moreover, the oscillating ON–OFF cycles were proved to strongly affect the film structure, leading to a more compact hydrogel coating with a lower water content, higher crystallinity, complex layer architecture and relatively strong mechanical properties that could be easily peeled off as a free-standing hollow tube. Importantly, all the experiments were conducted under mild conditions that allowed additional enhancing materials to be added in to further improve the mechanical and/or biological properties. Thus, this work advances a very promising self-assembly technology for the construction of a multi-functional hydrogel coating and artificial blood vessel regeneration.