Numerical investigation of the influence of pattern topology on the mechanical behavior of PEGDA hydrogels
Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels can be potentially used as scaffold material for tissue engineered heart valves (TEHVs) due to their good biocompatibility and biomechanical tunability. The photolithographic patterning technique is an effective approach to pattern PEGDA hydrogels to mimic the mechanical behavior of native biological tissues that are intrinsically anisotropic. The material properties of patterned PEGDA hydrogels largely depend on the pattern topology. In this paper, we adopt a newly proposed computational framework for fibrous biomaterials to numerically investigate the influence of pattern topology, including pattern ratio, orientation and waviness, on the mechanical behavior of patterned PEGDA hydrogels. The material parameters for the base hydrogel and the pattern stripes are directly calibrated from published experimental data. Several experimental observations reported in the literature are captured in the simulation, including the nonlinear relationship between pattern ratio and material linear modulus, and the decrease of material anisotropy when pattern ratio increases. We further numerically demonstrate that a three-region (toe-heel-linear) stress–strain relationship typically exhibited by biological tissues can be obtained by tuning the pattern waviness and the relative stiffness between the base hydrogel and pattern stripes. The numerical strategy and simulation results presented here can provide helpful guidance to optimize pattern design of PEGDA hydrogels toward the targeted material mechanical properties, therefore advance the development of TEHVs.
PEGDA hydrogel; pattern topology; embedded fiber approach