[en] The texture of highly porous polylactide foams prepared by freeze-drying of poly-L-lactide (L-PLA) and poly-DL-lactide (DL-PLA) solutions of various concentrations was investigated by two novel methodologies, image analysis and impedance spectroscopy. Image analysis of scanning electron micrographs of transverse cross-sections at two different magnifications gave information on both the macroporosity (1 mum < width 10 <mu>m) and ultramacroporosity (width > 10 mum). Impedance spectroscopy was used to investigate the transport properties of the three-dimensional porous matrices by measurement of ionic conduction. Image analysis showed that: (a) the macroporosity, which mainly contributes to porosity, is independent of the sample composition; (b) when the concentration of the polymer solution is increased, the density of the ultramacropores decreases and their average diameter increases; (c) the distribution of the ultramacropores is more homogeneous in the semicrystalline L-PLA. foams than in the amorphous DL-PLA counterparts, in which the ultramacropores tend to make clusters. The dielectric properties changed at low frequency, in relation to modifications in the ultramacroporosity. Ultramacropores of the L-PLA foams were found to be more open and more sensitive to the concentration of the polymer solutions compared with DL-PLA. Expectedly, the mechanical properties of the PLA foams changed with the structure of the ultramacroporous network. These results encourage further investigations on the texture of porous supports, to collect pertinent information on the physical macro- and ultramacroenvironment in which cells will reside.
Center for Education and Research on Macromolecules (CERM)
Politique Scientifique Fédérale (Belgique) = Belgian Federal Science Policy ; The "Conseil de la Recherche" (University of Liège, ULg)