Materials2015, 8(2), 408-423; doi:10.3390/ma8020408 - published 26 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Synthetic and natural polymer association is a promising tool in tissue engineering. The aim of this study was to compare five methodologies for producing hybrid scaffolds for cell culture using poly-l-lactide (PLLA) and collagen: functionalization of PLLA electrospun by (1) dialkylamine and collagen immobilization with glutaraldehyde and by (2) hydrolysis and collagen immobilization with carbodiimide chemistry; (3) co-electrospinning of PLLA/chloroform and collagen/hexafluoropropanol (HFP) solutions; (4) co-electrospinning of PLLA/chloroform and collagen/acetic acid solutions and (5) electrospinning of a co-solution of PLLA and collagen using HFP. These materials were evaluated based on their morphology, mechanical properties, ability to induce cell proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity upon submission of mesenchymal stem cells to basal or osteoblastic differentiation medium (ODM). Methods (1) and (2) resulted in a decrease in mechanical properties, whereas methods (3), (4) and (5) resulted in materials of higher tensile strength and osteogenic differentiation. Materials yielded by methods (2), (3) and (5) promoted osteoinduction even in the absence of ODM. The results indicate that the scaffold based on the PLLA/collagen blend exhibited optimal mechanical properties and the highest capacity for osteodifferentiation and was the best choice for collagen incorporation into PLLA in bone repair applications.
Materials2015, 8(2), 392-407; doi:10.3390/ma8020392 - published 23 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A miniaturized antenna employing a negative index metamaterial with modified split-ring resonator (SRR) and capacitance-loaded strip (CLS) unit cells is presented for Ultra wideband (UWB) microwave imaging applications. Four left-handed (LH) metamaterial (MTM) unit cells are located along one axis of the antenna as the radiating element. Each left-handed metamaterial unit cell combines a modified split-ring resonator (SRR) with a capacitance-loaded strip (CLS) to obtain a design architecture that simultaneously exhibits both negative permittivity and negative permeability, which ensures a stable negative refractive index to improve the antenna performance for microwave imaging. The antenna structure, with dimension of 16 × 21 × 1.6 mm3, is printed on a low dielectric FR4 material with a slotted ground plane and a microstrip feed. The measured reflection coefficient demonstrates that this antenna attains 114.5% bandwidth covering the frequency band of 3.4–12.5 GHz for a voltage standing wave ratio of less than 2 with a maximum gain of 5.16 dBi at 10.15 GHz. There is a stable harmony between the simulated and measured results that indicate improved nearly omni-directional radiation characteristics within the operational frequency band. The stable surface current distribution, negative refractive index characteristic, considerable gain and radiation properties make this proposed negative index metamaterial antenna optimal for UWB microwave imaging applications.
Materials2015, 8(2), 379-391; doi:10.3390/ma8020379 - published 23 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A novel polymer-drug conjugate was prepared by the chemical reaction between the copolymer Pluronic P123 and the docetaxel via a pH sensitive hydrazone bond. These pluronic P123-docetaxel (DTX) conjugates (P123-DTX) could form the stable drug-loaded materials that can self-assemble into the defined nano-micelles in aqueous solution because of their obvious amphiphilic property and low critical micelle concentration. The spherical morphology and particle size of the prepared nano-micelles were characterized by transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering, respectively. Moreover, after the introduction of pH sensitive hydrazone bond, P123-DTX micelle showed a pH dependent drug release behavior. At pH 5.0 (in 48 h), the cumulative release amount of DTX were ~84.9%, which is about six times higher than that at pH 7.4. The prepared novel p123-DTX conjugates may offer a great benefit for drug delivery and controlling the drug release.
Materials2015, 8(1), 368-378; doi:10.3390/ma8010368 - published 20 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Temperature and relative humidity (RH) are two major external factors, which affect equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of wood-plastic composites (WPCs). In this study, the effect of different durability treatments on sorption and desorption isotherms of southern yellow pine (SYP)-high density polyethylene (HDPE) composites was investigated. All samples were equilibriumed at 20 °C and various RHs including 16%, 33%, 45%, 66%, 75%, 85%, 93%, and100%. EMCs obtained from desorption and absorption for different WPC samples were compared with Nelson’s sorption isotherm model predictions using the same temperature and humidity conditions. The results indicated that the amount of moisture absorbed increased with the increases in RH at 20 °C. All samples showed sorption hysteresis at a fixed RH. Small difference between EMC data of WPC samples containing different amount of ultraviolet (UV) stabilizers were observed. Similar results were observed among the samples containing different amount of zinc borate (ZB). The experimental data of EMCs at various RHs fit to the Nelson’s sorption isotherm model well. The Nelson’s model can be used to predicate EMCs of WPCs under different RH environmental conditions.
Materials2015, 8(1), 355-367; doi:10.3390/ma8010355 - published 19 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cadmium sulphide (CdS) quantum dot sensitized solar cells (QDSSCs) based on screen-printed TiO2 were assembled using a screen-printing technique. The CdS quantum dots (QDs) were grown by using the Successive Ionic Layer Adsorption and Reaction (SILAR) method. The optical properties were studied by UV-Vis absorbance spectroscopy. Photovoltaic characteristics and impedance spectroscopic measurements of CdS QDSSCs were carried out under air mass 1.5 illuminations. The experimental results of capacitance against voltage indicate a trend from positive to negative capacitance because of the injection of electrons from the Fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) electrode into TiO2.
Materials2015, 8(1), 339-354; doi:10.3390/ma8010339 - published 19 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The performance of advance photocatalytic degradation of 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (4-CPA) strongly depends on photocatalyst dosage, initial concentration and initial pH. In the present study, a simple response surface methodology (RSM) was applied to investigate the interaction between these three independent factors. Thus, the photocatalytic degradation of 4-CPA in aqueous medium assisted by ultraviolet-active ZnO photocatalyst was systematically investigated. This study aims to determine the optimum processing parameters to maximize 4-CPA degradation. Based on the results obtained, it was found that a maximum of 91% of 4-CPA was successfully degraded under optimal conditions (0.02 g ZnO dosage, 20.00 mg/L of 4-CPA and pH 7.71). All the experimental data showed good agreement with the predicted results obtained from statistical analysis.