Analysis of sintered polymer scaffolds using concomitant synchrotron computed tomography and in situ mechanical testing
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- Dhillon, A., Schneider, P., Kuhn, G. et al. J Mater Sci: Mater Med (2011) 22: 2599. doi:10.1007/s10856-011-4443-z
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The mechanical behaviour of polymer scaffolds plays a vital role in their successful use in bone tissue engineering. The present study utilised novel sintered polymer scaffolds prepared using temperature-sensitive poly(dl-lactic acid-co-glycolic acid)/poly(ethylene glycol) particles. The microstructure of these scaffolds was monitored under compressive strain by image-guided failure assessment (IGFA), which combined synchrotron radiation computed tomography (SR CT) and in situ micro-compression. Three-dimensional CT data sets of scaffolds subjected to a strain rate of 0.01%/s illustrated particle movement within the scaffolds with no deformation or cracking. When compressed using a higher strain rate of 0.02%/s particle movement was more pronounced and cracks between sintered particles were observed. The results from this study demonstrate that IGFA based on simultaneous SR CT imaging and micro-compression testing is a useful tool for assessing structural and mechanical scaffold properties, leading to further insight into structure–function relationships in scaffolds for bone tissue engineering applications.