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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Feb 29;97(5):1970-5.

Macroporous polymer foams by hydrocarbon templating.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering and Harvard/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Porous polymeric media (polymer foams) are utilized in a wide range of applications, such as thermal and mechanical insulators, solid supports for catalysis, and medical devices. A process for the production of polymer foams has been developed. This process, which is applicable to a wide range of polymers, uses a hydrocarbon particulate phase as a template for the precipitation of the polymer phase and subsequent pore formation. The use of a hydrocarbon template allows for enhanced control over pore structure, porosity, and other structural and bulk characteristics of the polymer foam. Polymer foams with densities as low as 120 mg/cc, porosity as high as 87%, and high surface areas (20 m(2)/g) have been produced. Foams of poly(l-lactic acid), a biodegradable polymer, produced by this process have been used to engineer a variety of different structures, including tissues with complex geometries such as in the likeness of a human nose.

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