Controlling the Surface Chemistry of a Hydrogel for Spatially Defined Cell Adhesion

Jeffrey W. Chen, Kelly Lim, Stephen B. Bandini, Greg M. Harris, Joshua A. Spechler, Craig B. Arnold, Romain Fardel, Jean E. Schwarzbauer, Jeffrey Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A two-step synthesis is described for activating the surface of a fully hydrated hydrogel that is of interest as a possible scaffold for neural regeneration devices. The first step exploits the water content of the hydrogel and the hydrophobicity of the reaction solvent to create a thin oxide layer on the hydrogel surface using a common titanium or zirconium alkoxide. This layer serves as a reactive interface that enables rapid transformation of the hydrophilic, cell-nonadhesive hydrogel into either a highly hydrophobic surface by reaction with an alkylphosphonic acid, or into a cell-adhesive one using a (α,ω-diphosphono)alkane. Physically imprinting a mask ("debossing") into the hydrogel, followed by a two-step surface modification with a phosphonate, allows for patterning its surface to create spatially defined, cell-adhesive regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15411-15416
Number of pages6
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


  • cell adhesion
  • cell alignment
  • deboss patterning
  • hydrogels
  • hydrophobic
  • surface activation


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