Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical and Chemical Engineering


Mary Beth Monroe


Hydrogel, Isocyanate

Subject Categories

Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Engineering


The development of novel biomaterials is an important step in providing higher quality products for wound healing, drug delivery, and tissue engineering. Progress is consistently being made in the development of new polymers, yet new polymer systems are often expensive and/or involve complex multistep synthesis methods. These limitations could hinder the translation and scalability of functionalized materials. To address the issues of complex synthesis and high cost, we have devised strategies for polymeric modification using isocyanate chemistry. Isocyanates are used in the manufacturing of polyurethanes. Isocyanates are highly reactive with common functional groups, such as amines, hydroxyls, and carboxylic acids. By combining diisocyanates with monomers that contain an isocyanate-reactive group and a desired functional group, the product is a reactive functional linker. Utilizing simple isocyanate chemistry and commercially- available starting materials, we developed a library of functionalized, low-cost poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogels with tunable biodegradability, antimicrobial properties, photopolymerization, peptide attachment, and differentiation capabilities. All reactions can be completed within 48 hours, involve two or fewer synthesis steps, and cost $1 or less per gram to produce in the research setting. This system for developing functional biopolymers is an exciting step for the large-scale production of specialized biomaterials.


Open Access