Modern medicine has the desire to replace damaged tissue with newly grown tissue, such as to repair skin, bone, cartilage, or arteries. But what kinds of surfaces could be used to grow suitable tissues? Suolong Ni, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has fabricated a biopolymer onto solid surfaces with a range of properties to enable the study of the effects of different surfaces on cell adhesion and tissue growth.

He will present his research in the Excellence in Graduate Polymer Science Research Symposium at the 231st American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta on March 26-30.

Ni has fabricated a thin film that has both smooth areas and areas where the molecules have formed a geometric or crystal-like relationship, making the surface patterned. So far he has prepared a series of surface patterns with controlled surface morphology. These surfaces may be suitable for cell adhesion studies.

The poster, "Fabrication of poly(L-lactic acid) substrates with controlled surface morphology and crystallinity via the Langmuir-Blodgett technique" (POLY 186), will be presented from 6 to 8 p.m., Sunday, March 26, in the Georgia World Congress Center Exhibit Hall B4. Co-authors are graduate students Woojin Lee and Melinda K. Ferguson-McPherson and faculty members John R. Morris and Alan R. Esker, all of Virginia Tech's Department of Chemistry.

American Chemical Society Abstract

Fabrication of biodegradable and biocompatible surfaces of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) has attracted considerable interest for tissue engineering and drug delivery. In our study, the Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) technique is used to produce highly ordered poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) crystalline substrates with low surface roughness. The phase behavior of PLLA Langmuir films in “two-dimensional” monolayers at the air/water interface is examined by the Langmuir film balance and Brewster angle microscopy to thoroughly understand newly observed surface morphologies. PLLA substrates prepared in different Langmuir film states have different surface morphologies with similar degrees of crystallinity, suggesting the existence of PLLA 10/3 helices over the entire range of surface concentrations. The difference in surface morphology arises from the collapse of PLLA Langmuir films through the cracking and buckling of the existing lamellae. Our study provides patterned surfaces that can be used to study the effects of crystallinity and surface roughness on cell adhesion.