This study demonstrates a method for producing ordered collagen fibrils on a similar length scale to those in the cornea, using a one-pot liquid-phase synthesis. The alignment persists throughout samples on the mm scale. The addition of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), a biocompatible and widely available material, to collagen prior to gelation causes the fibrils to align and achieve a narrow size distribution (36 ± 8 nm). The effects of NCC loading in the composites on microstructure, transparency and biocompatibility are studied by scanning electron microscopy, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy and cell growth experiments. A 2% loading of NCC increases the transparency of collagen while producing an ordered microstructure. A mechanism is proposed for the ordering behavior on the basis of enhanced hydrogen bonding during collagen gel formation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was performed with partial financial support of the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics (to A.H.). S.G.R. is supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Parts of this work were carried out in the University of Minnesota Characterization Facility, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC, ERC, MRI and NNIN programs.
- Artificial cornea
- Nanocrystalline cellulose