• Multi-scale mechanical characterization of highly swollen photo-activated collagen hydrogels

      Tronci, G.; Grant, Colin A.; Thompson, N.H.; Russell, S.J.; Wood, David J. (2014-11)
      Biological hydrogels have been increasingly sought after as wound dressings or scaffolds for regenerative medicine, owing to their inherent biofunctionality in biological environments. Especially in moist wound healing, the ideal material should absorb large amounts of wound exudate while remaining mechanically competent in situ. Despite their large hydration, however, current biological hydrogels still leave much to be desired in terms of mechanical properties in physiological conditions. To address this challenge, a multi-scale approach is presented for the synthetic design of cyto-compatible collagen hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties (from the nano- up to the macro-scale), uniquely high swelling ratios and retained (more than 70%) triple helical features. Type I collagen was covalently functionalized with three different monomers, i.e. 4-vinylbenzyl chloride, glycidyl methacrylate and methacrylic anhydride, respectively. Backbone rigidity, hydrogen-bonding capability and degree of functionalization (F: 16 ± 12–91 ± 7 mol%) of introduced moieties governed the structure–property relationships in resulting collagen networks, so that the swelling ratio (SR: 707 ± 51–1996 ± 182 wt%), bulk compressive modulus (Ec: 30 ± 7–168 ± 40 kPa) and atomic force microscopy elastic modulus (EAFM: 16 ± 2–387 ± 66 kPa) were readily adjusted. Because of their remarkably high swelling and mechanical properties, these tunable collagen hydrogels may be further exploited for the design of advanced dressings for chronic wound care.
    • Strength of hydroentangled fabrics manufactured from photo-irradiated poly para-phenylene terephthalamide (PPTA) fibres

      Wright, T.M.; Carr, C.M.; Grant, Colin A.; Lilladhar, V.; Russell, S.J. (2015-09-03)
      Photo-irradiation of poly para-phenylene terephthalamide (PPTA) fibre is normally associated with deterioration of physical properties. Nonwoven fabrics produced from 100% photo-irradiated PPTA fibres might therefore be expected to yield fabrics with poorer mechanical properties compared to those produced from non-irradiated fibres. To test this hypothesis, the bursting strength of hydroentangled fabrics manufactured from photo-irradiated PPTA fibres was explored. Prior to fabric manufacture, virgin PPTA staple fibres were photo-irradiated under controlled lighting conditions (xenon short arc lamp with a luminous flux of 13,000 lm) for 0, 5, 10, 20, 40, 60 and 100 h. The photo-irradiated fibres were then hydroentangled to produce nonwoven fabrics. Photo-irradiation exposure of PPTA fibre up to 30 MJ m 2 was not found to be detrimental to fabric bursting strength and at irradiation energies of 5e10 MJ m 2 a small, but statistically significant increase in fabric bursting strength was observed compared to fabrics manufactured from non-irradiated fibre. This may be linked to a change in the surface and skin properties of the PPTA photo-irradiated fibres identified by atomic force microscopy (AFM) following photoirradiation.