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Polymers (Basel). 2020 Jan 6;12(1). pii: E140. doi: 10.3390/polym12010140.

Hydrophilic Porous Polydimethysiloxane Sponge as a Novel 3D Matrix Mimicking Heterogeneous Pores in Soil for Plant Cultivation.

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Key Laboratory of Luminescent and Real-Time Analytical Chemistry (Southwest University), Ministry of Education, Institute for Clean Energy and Advanced Materials, Faculty of Materials and Energy, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.
School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.


In this work, a citric acid monohydrate (CAM)-templated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) sponge was proposed to mimic heterogeneous pore structures in the soil for plant cultivation. The porosity of the PDMS sponges was tuned by adjusting the CAM template. The water intake capability of the sponge was improved by (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) functionalization. The pore size and pore distribution were characterized by SEM and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). The effect of pore structures on Oryzasativa (O. sativa) growth was investigated. Also, a 3D multi-layer PDMS sponge assembling was proposed to mimic the heterogeneous pore distribution at the different soil depth. The different growth rates of O. sativa and Nicotiana tabacum L. (N. tabacum) seeds on porous PDMS sponge indicated the impact of physical obstacles (pores) and chemical (water content) conditions on plant development. It is anticipated that this PDMS sponge could serve as a 3D matrix to mimic soil and provide a new idea for plant cultivation.


PDMS sponge; artificial soil; plant cultivation; porous 3D matrix; seed germination

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