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J R Soc Interface. 2012 Nov 7;9(76):3017-26. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Towards excimer-laser-based stereolithography: a rapid process to fabricate rigid biodegradable photopolymer scaffolds.

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Department of Nanophysics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), via Morego 30, 16152 Genova, Italy.


We demonstrate high-resolution photocross-linking of biodegradable poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and diethyl fumarate (DEF) using UV excimer laser photocuring at 308 nm. The curing depth can be tuned in a micrometre range by adjusting the total energy dose (total fluence). Young's moduli of the scaffolds are found to be a few gigapascal, high enough to support bone formation. The results presented here demonstrate that the proposed technique is an excellent tool for the fabrication of stiff and biocompatible structures on a micrometre scale with defined patterns of high resolution in all three spatial dimensions. Using UV laser photocuring at 308 nm will significantly improve the speed of rapid prototyping of biocompatible and biodegradable polymer scaffolds and enables its production in a few seconds, providing high lateral and horizontal resolution. This short timescale is indeed a tremendous asset that will enable a more efficient translation of technology to clinical applications. Preliminary cell tests proved that PPF : DEF scaffolds produced by excimer laser photocuring are biocompatible and, therefore, are promising candidates to be applied in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

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