Mechanically robust cationic cellulose nanofibril 3D scaffolds with tuneable biomimetic porosity for cell culture

James C. Courtenay, Jefferson G. Filgueiras, Eduardo Ribeiro Deazevedo, Yun Jin, Karen J. Edler, Ram I. Sharma, Janet L. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (SciVal)


3D foam scaffolds were produced in a "bottom-up" approach from lyophilised cationic cellulose nanofibril (CCNF) dispersions and emulsions (CCNF degree of substitution 23.0 ± 0.9%), using a directional freezing/lyophilisation approach, producing internal architectures ranging from aligned smooth walled micro channels, mimicking vascularised tissue, to pumice-like wall textures, reminiscent of porous bone. The open, highly porous architecture of these biomimetic scaffolds included mesopores within the walls of the channels. A combination of SEM and NMR cryoporometry and relaxometry was used to determine the porosity at different length scales: CCNF foams with aligned channels had an average macropore (channel) size of 35 ± 9 μm and a mesopore (wall) diameter of 26 ± 2 nm, while CCNF foams produced from directional freezing and lyophilisation of Pickering emulsions had mesoporous walls (5 ± 3 μm) in addition to channels (54 ± 20 μm). Glyoxal crosslinking both enhanced robustness and stiffness, giving Young's moduli of 0.45 to 50.75 MPa for CCNF foams with degrees of crosslinking from 0 to 3.04 mol%. Porosity and channels are critical scaffold design elements for transport of nutrients and waste products, as well as O2/CO2 exchange. The viability of MG-63 cells was enhanced on crosslinked, mechanically stiff scaffolds, indicating that these exquisitely structured, yet robust, foams could provide biomaterial scaffolds suitable for industrial applications requiring 3D cell culturing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry B
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)


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