American Chemical Society
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Tribological Properties of Micropored Poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) Hydrogels in a Biomimetic Aqueous Environment

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-27, 18:04 authored by Yiwen Xi, Prashant Kumar Sharma, Hans Jan Kaper, Chang-Hwan Choi
The applications of hydrogels in tissue engineering as implants have rapidly grown in the last decade. However, the tribological properties of hydrogels under physiologically relevant conditions, especially those of textured hydrogels, have remained largely unknown due to the complexity of their mechanical and chemical properties. In this study, we experimentally investigated the tribological properties of micopored poly­(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) with the lateral pore dimensions varied compared to untextured pHEMA, the most commonly used hydrogel in ophthalmology, under physiologically relevant conditions. The pHEMA specimens were slid against a smooth glass curve under varying loads (6–60 mN, leading to an average contact pressure of 10–21 kPa) and sliding speeds (1–10 mm/s) in phosphate-buffered saline (pH 7.4) at 33 °C to mimic the physiological conditions in human eyes. At relatively low loads and sliding speeds (e.g., 6 mN and 1 mm/s), the micopored pHEMA did not reduce the dissipated frictional energy significantly. However, at relatively high loads and sliding speeds (e.g., 60 mN and 100 mm/s), the micopored pHEMA resulted in significantly lower frictional energy (reduced by up to 68%) dissipation than the untextured pHEMA. The effect was more pronounced with the micropores with smaller dimensions. These are attributed to the greater amount and retentivity of the interfacial fluid supported by the free water squeezed out of the micropores with the smaller dimensions under the higher load and sliding speed. These results suggest that the use of micropore texturing on hydrogels in practice, such as for ocular applications, can be leveraged to reduce friction and wear under physiological conditions and hence lower the chance of inflammation near eye implants or keratoprosthesis.