The swelling of polymer networks leads to the formation of gels. Swelling under flexible mechanical, chemo-mechanical, or bio-mechanical constraints can lead to a lot of interesting behaviors. In our group we aim to better understand the influence of constraints on mechanical gels and exploit 3D-printing technologies to design experiments that quantify the interactions between gels and their environment.
Tailoring the swelling response of gels
Gels are formed when a polymer network is submerged in a liquid solvent and begins to swell.
Our group showed that the swelling response can be tuned by introducing inhomogeneities in the network. [link]
Hydrogel core-shell structures
Hydrogels can be used in a wide variety of applications such as in situ sensors for measuring cell-generated forces and drug delivery vehicles. Our new work investigates the properties and response of hydrogel-based core-shell structures. Our results guide the design of novel core-shell structures with tunable properties and mechanical responses.
Equilibrium swelling of heterogeneous gels
The swelling process of gels comprising two or more distinct phases depends on the microstructure of the network.
Our work aims to understand the influence of heterogenities or mechanical constraints in the form of bi-layer gels on the overall response. The findings from our works can be used to program the equliibrium swelling response by an appropriate design of the microstructure of the network.