"The proposed project is aimed at developing a bottom up process for the creation of biomimetic organic-inorganic structures. The process will include from the molecular stage to prepare the phases involved, to the use of emerging techniques to fabricate bio-inspired structural materials with regenerative applications in the biomaterials field.
The first part of the project will be the synthesis of different hydrogels for the organic phase. This hydrogels will be formulated in base of modified polymers. The selected polymers are chitosan (as a natural polymer) and poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA, as a synthetic polymer), that will be chemically and physically modified to improve a subsequent mineralization with the inorganic phase. The hydrogels will be used as templates for the crystallization of apatite nanoparticles. Before carrying out a bulk mineralization, a complete study of this stage will be performed in 2D (thin films) and 3D (blocks) with the aim of studying and characterizing the mineralization mechanisms and the organic-inorganic interface.
The last part of the project will be the mineralization of the hydrogels and the creation of three dimensional scaffold materials inspired in hierarchical natural structures like bone. Different forming techniques, like freeze casting and electrospinning will be used, including a study of the different forming conditions both in the final structures and in properties. The project will be completed with a microstructural, chemical and mechanical characterization of the final materials."
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