Journal of Supercritical Fluids, Vol.95, 273-284, 2014
Surface hierarchical porosity in poly (epsilon-caprolactone) membranes with potential applications in tissue engineering prepared by foaming in supercritical carbon dioxide
This article describes the preparation of porous poly (e-caprolactone), PCL, membranes by supercritical CO2 (SCCO2) foaming, displaying surface hierarchical macroporosity which could be tailored by careful control of the pressure, in the range of 150-250 bar, and depressurization processes in several steps, showing also pore interconnectivity between both membrane faces. The membranes exhibited two distinct types of surface macroporosity, the larger with diameter sizes of 300-500 mu m were surrounded by and also composed of smaller pores of 15-50 mu m (same size as inner pores). Membranes were prepared by solvent casting and submitted to different SCCO2 foaming. Parameters such as membrane thickness, CO2 flow, foaming time, pressure, temperature and the depressurization processes (rate and profiles), were varied to determine their influence on final porosity and to decipher which parameters were the most critical ones in terms of surface hierarchical pore organization. No remarkable changes in PCL crystallinity were found when membranes were processed under SCCO2. Finally, biological evaluation of the porous membranes was achieved by seeding human skin fibroblasts on the prepared membranes. The results, in terms of cell adhesion, spreading, proliferation and metabolic activity indicate that these membranes could hold promise for the fabrication of meshes with controlled porosity for tissue engineering applications. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.