Photo-Cross-Linked Poly(dl-lactide)-Based Networks. Structural Characterization by HR-MAS NMR Spectroscopy and Hydrolytic Degradation Behavior

Ferry P W Melchels, Aldrik H. Velders, Jan Feijen, Dirk W. Grijpma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


To date, biodegradable networks and particularly their kinetic chain lengths have been characterized by analysis of their degradation products in solution. We characterize the network itself by NMR analysis in the solvent-swollen state under magic angle spinning conditions. The networks were prepared by photoinitiated cross-linking of poly(dl-lactide)-dimethacrylate macromers (5 kg/mol) in the presence of an unreactive diluent. Using diffusion filtering and 2D correlation spectroscopy techniques, all network components are identified. By quantification of network-bound photoinitiator fragments, an average kinetic chain length of 9 ± 2 methacrylate units is determined. The PDLLA macromer solution was also used with a dye to prepare computer-designed structures by stereolithography. For these networks structures, the average kinetic chain length is 24 ± 4 methacrylate units. In all cases the calculated molecular weights of the polymethacrylate chains after degradation are maximally 8.8 kg/mol, which is far below the threshold for renal clearance. Upon incubation in phosphate buffered saline at 37 °C, the networks show a similar mass loss profile in time as linear high-molecular-weight PDLLA (HMW PDLLA). The mechanical properties are preserved longer for the PDLLA networks than for HMW PDLLA. The initial tensile strength of 47 ± 2 MPa does not decrease significantly for the first 15 weeks, while HMW PDLLA lost 85 ± 5% of its strength within 5 weeks. The physical properties, kinetic chain length, and degradation profile of these photo-cross-linked PDLLA networks make them most suited materials for orthopedic applications and use in (bone) tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8570-8579
Number of pages10
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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