A Method of Selective Foaming for Porous Polymeric Material
Introduction The ability to create porous polymeric material has a wide diversity of applications ranging from commercial packaging to Lab-on-a-Chip devices due to its ability to create material with reduced weight and tunable pore sizes and its ability to realize utility from different polymers—including biodegradable ones. The well-defined, interconnected pores are especially suited to mimicking biological structures and make excellent scaffolds for tissue engineering to support the restoration, maintenance, and improved function of tissues and organs both in vitro and in vivo. Unfortunately, conventional techniques for creating the polymer foam integral to the process utilize either potentially harmful organic solvents that can only create a single scale of pore or laser sintering that lacks the resolution necessary to appropriately mimic tissue architecture. Technology Description Professor Li at the University of Washington has developed a process that can create pores of multiple length scales and in selective locations within the same polymer. Using high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), polymer foams are selectively created within the polymer starting material without the need for organic solvents. The product contains welldefined and open cells ranging from a few to several hundred micrometers. Business Opportunity With its ability to control pore size and location, this method presents opportunities for optimizing fluid and gas permeability and tuning mass transport properties within a lightweight and potentially biodegradable framework. It is well suited to creating tissue engineering scaffolds, Lab-on-a-chip and Animal-on-a-Chip devices, catalyst carriers for fuel cells, and adsorption sites for bio-chemical sensors. Additional functionality for tailor-made packaging and similar commercial and industrial uses are sought. Stage of Development A working methodology has been developed and characterized. Intellectual Property Position The UW has patents pending on this technology.
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