Three-dimensional scaffolds based on inverted colloidal crystals (ICCs) were fabricated from sequentially polymerized interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) hydrogels of poly(ethyleneglycol) and poly(acrylic acid). This high-strength, high-water-content IPN hydrogel may be suitable for use in an artificial cornea application. Development of a highly porous, biointegrable region at the periphery of the artificial cornea device is critical to long-term retention of the implant. The ICC fabrication technique produced scaffolds with well-controlled, tunable pore and channel dimensions. When surface functionalized with extracellular matrix proteins, corneal fibroblasts were successfully cultured on IPN hydrogel scaffolds, demonstrating the feasibility of these gels as materials for the artificial cornea porous periphery. Porous hydrogels with and without cells were visualized non-invasively in the hydrated state using variable-pressure scanning electron microscopy.
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