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Precise Microscale Polymeric Networks through Piezoelectronic Inkjet Printing

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journal contribution
posted on 09.06.2016, 20:09 by Benjamin R. Spears, Michael A. Marin, Anisse N. Chaker, Michael W. Lampley, Eva Harth
Microsized particles are versatile drug delivery systems with applications as inhalants, implants, and vaccines. An ideal fabrication technique is envisioned to provide particles with controlled size dimensions and is facile, without excessive loss of drug during incorporation, modulated morphologies and release kinetics. In this work, we report on the utilization of a set of polymeric building blocks such as allyl- functionalized polycarbonates, semibranched poly­(glycidol allylglycidyl ether)­s, and dithiol-PEG cross-linkers to form microsized networks in controlled size dimensions of 18–12 μm, 12–8 μm, and 1–2 μm with modulated morphologies and hydrophilicity based on the ratio of the polycarbonate or polyglycidol building blocks. Piezoelectric ink jet printing allows for the direct printing of these polymeric structures onto substrates, after which the printed droplet is cross-linked via UV light using thiol–ene click reactions. By varying the ratio of the allyl-functionalized building block droplets from being purely prepared either from polycarbonate (PC), polyglycidol (PG) backbones or in a ratio of 70/30 of functionalized polycarbonates and polyglycidols, the droplets can be either printed in DMSO or water. Preliminary studies to control the particle sizes not only through the droplet volume but also by reducing the polymer concentration by 20%, resulted in another set of 70/30 polycarbonate/polyglycidol micron sized networks with an observed corresponding size reduction of 20%. With this, we have developed a facile technique to prepare microsized hydrogel particles with homogeneous and attractive size dimensions that can be directly prepared without using lithography methodologies. The strength of the approach is the set of unique polymeric building blocks that in combination with the new technique allows for a modulation of hydrophilicity and morphologies to form promising drug delivery candidates to carry and release synthetic as well as biological cargo.

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