A Novel Electrochemical Process for Assembling Composite Macrostructures of Collagen Containing Hierarchically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes

X. Cheng, V.Z. Poenitzsch, R. Bizios
Southwest Research Institute, US

Keywords: self-assembly, collagen, carbon nanotubes


Composite materials of synthetic nanomaterials and naturally derived materials are of specific interest for engineered tissues due to their potential to provide improved chemical and physical properties. The introduction of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into traditional biomaterial scaffolds offers the possibility of improved mechanical strength, durability, directed cell guidance, electrical conductance, and controlled differentiation and migration of cells. This study describes a novel preparation process of highly-aligned, hierarchically-ordered CNT-collagen macrostructures for potential use in tissue repair and regeneration applications. Specifically, the method uses chemical conjugation to functionalize CNTs with collagen, and the subsequent use of an electrodeposition process to co-assemble them into hierarchically-aligned scaffolds. CNT-collagen conjugates can be assembled into macroscopic thin sheets, fibers and tubes by using this electrochemical process with various electrode configurations. The innovative bottom-up electrochemical process is based on biologically-controlled self-assembly of collagen to attain hierarchical alignment properties that are difficult to achieve through conventional methods. The CNTs/collagen macrostructures were characterized using scanning electron microscope, polarized Raman spectroscopy, nano-indentation, mechanical tensile testing and cell-based biocompatiblity assays. In this presentation, we describe the fabrication process and characterization of the physical properties and biocompatibility of these novel CNT-collagen macrostructures.