Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Bioinspired tough gel sheath for robust and versatile surface functionalization

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Science Advances  07 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 15, eabc3012
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc3012

Abstract

Sutures pervade surgeries, but their performance is limited by the mechanical mismatch with tissues and the lack of advanced functionality. Existing modification strategies result in either deterioration of suture’s bulk properties or a weak coating susceptible to rupture or delamination. Inspired by tendon endotenon sheath, we report a versatile strategy to functionalize fiber-based devices such as sutures. This strategy seamlessly unites surgical sutures, tough gel sheath, and various functional materials. Robust modification is demonstrated with strong interfacial adhesion (>2000 J m−2). The surface stiffness, friction, and drag of the suture when interfacing with tissues can be markedly reduced, without compromising the tensile strength. Versatile functionalization of the suture for infection prevention, wound monitoring, drug delivery, and near-infrared imaging is then presented. This platform technology is applicable to other fiber-based devices and foreseen to affect broad technological areas ranging from wound management to smart textiles.

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