Hard and soft structural composites found in biology provide inspiration for the design of advanced synthetic materials. Many examples of bio-inspired hard materials can be found in the literature; far less attention has been devoted to soft systems. Here we introduce deterministic routes to low-modulus thin film materials with stress/strain responses that can be tailored precisely to match the non-linear properties of biological tissues, with application opportunities that range from soft biomedical devices to constructs for tissue engineering. The approach combines a low-modulus matrix with an open, stretchable network as a structural reinforcement that can yield classes of composites with a wide range of desired mechanical responses, including anisotropic, spatially heterogeneous, hierarchical and self-similar designs. Demonstrative application examples in thin, skin-mounted electrophysiological sensors with mechanics precisely matched to the human epidermis and in soft, hydrogel-based vehicles for triggered drug release suggest their broad potential uses in biomedical devices.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award # DE-FG02-07ER46471 and used facilities in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory and the Center for Microanalysis of Materials at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Y.H. acknowledges the support from NSF (CMMI-1400169). K.-I.J. acknowledges support from a Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (D00008). S.Y.H. acknowledges support from Samsung Display Co. through a visiting research scholar program. H.C. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research fellow. J.W.L, J.K. and U.P. acknowledge the support from Global Research Laboratory (GRL) Program (K20704000003TA050000310) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)