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Recent publications
1.  Rinoldi C., Lanzi M., Fiorelli R., Nakielski P., Zembrzycki K., Kowalewski T., Urbanek O., Grippo V., Jezierska-Woźniak K., Maksymowicz W., Camposeo A., Bilewicz R., Pisignano D., Sanai N., Pierini F., Three-dimensional printable conductive semi-interpenetrating polymer network hydrogel for neural tissue applications, BIOMACROMOLECULES, ISSN: 1525-7797, DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.1c00524, Vol.22, No.7, pp.3084-3098, 2021

Abstract:
Intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) are widely used to fabricate biomaterials; their application in neural tissue engineering, however, is severely limited because of their hydrophobicity and insufficient mechanical properties. For these reasons, soft conductive polymer hydrogels (CPHs) are recently developed, resulting in a water-based system with tissue-like mechanical, biological, and electrical properties. The strategy of incorporating ICPs as a conductive component into CPHs is recently explored by synthesizing the hydrogel around ICP chains, thus forming a semi-interpenetrating polymer network (semi-IPN). In this work, a novel conductive semi-IPN hydrogel is designed and synthesized. The hybrid hydrogel is based on a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-N-isopropylmethacrylamide) hydrogel where polythiophene is introduced as an ICP to provide the system with good electrical properties. The fabrication of the hybrid hydrogel in an aqueous medium is made possible by modifying and synthesizing the monomers of polythiophene to ensure water solubility. The morphological, chemical, thermal, electrical, electrochemical, and mechanical properties of semi-IPNs were fully investigated. Additionally, the biological response of neural progenitor cells and mesenchymal stem cells in contact with the conductive semi-IPN was evaluated in terms of neural differentiation and proliferation. Lastly, the potential of the hydrogel solution as a 3D printing ink was evaluated through the 3D laser printing method. The presented results revealed that the proposed 3D printable conductive semi-IPN system is a good candidate as a scaffold for neural tissue applications.

Affiliations:
Rinoldi C. - IPPT PAN
Lanzi M. - University of Bologna (IT)
Fiorelli R. - other affiliation
Nakielski P. - IPPT PAN
Zembrzycki K. - IPPT PAN
Kowalewski T. - IPPT PAN
Grippo V. - other affiliation
Jezierska-Woźniak K. - other affiliation
Maksymowicz W. - University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (PL)
Camposeo A. - other affiliation
Bilewicz R. - other affiliation
Pisignano D. - other affiliation
Sanai N. - other affiliation
Pierini F. - IPPT PAN
2.  Szewczyk P.K., Gradys A., Kyun Kim S., Persano L., Marzec M., Kryshtal A., Busolo T., Toncelli A., Pisignano D., Bernasik A., Kar-Narayan S., Sajkiewicz P., Stachewicz U., Enhanced piezoelectricity of electrospun polyvinylidene fluoride fibers for energy harvesting, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, ISSN: 1944-8244, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c02578, Vol.12, No.11, pp.13575-13583, 2020

Abstract:
Piezoelectric polymers are promising energy materials for wearable and implantable applications for replacing bulky batteries in small and flexible electronics. Therefore, many research studies are focused on understanding the behavior of polymers at a molecular level and designing new polymer-based generators using polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). In this work, we investigated the influence of voltage polarity and ambient relative humidity in electrospinning of PVDF for energy-harvesting applications. A multitechnique approach combining microscopy and spectroscopy was used to study the content of the β-phase and piezoelectric properties of PVDF fibers. We shed new light on β-phase crystallization in electrospun PVDF and showed the enhanced piezoelectric response of the PVDF fiber-based generator produced with the negative voltage polarity at a relative humidity of 60%. Above all, we proved that not only crystallinity but also surface chemistry is crucial for improving piezoelectric performance in PVDF fibers. Controlling relative humidity and voltage polarity increased the d33 piezoelectric coefficient for PVDF fibers by more than three times and allowed us to generate a power density of 0.6 μW·cm^–2 from PVDF membranes. This study showed that the electrospinning technique can be used as a single-step process for obtaining a vast spectrum of PVDF fibers exhibiting different physicochemical properties with β-phase crystallinity reaching up to 74%. The humidity and voltage polarity are critical factors in respect of chemistry of the material on piezoelectricity of PVDF fibers, which establishes a novel route to engineer materials for energy-harvesting and sensing applications.

Keywords:
PVDF, polymer crystallinity, electrospinning, piezoelectricity, voltage polarity

Affiliations:
Szewczyk P.K. - other affiliation
Gradys A. - IPPT PAN
Kyun Kim S. - other affiliation
Persano L. - other affiliation
Marzec M. - other affiliation
Kryshtal A. - other affiliation
Busolo T. - other affiliation
Toncelli A. - other affiliation
Pisignano D. - other affiliation
Bernasik A. - other affiliation
Kar-Narayan S. - other affiliation
Sajkiewicz P. - IPPT PAN
Stachewicz U. - AGH University of Science and Technology (PL)

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