PCL-Based Shape Memory Polymer Semi-IPNs: The Role of Miscibility in Tuning the Degradation Rate.
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The utility of poly(-caprolactone) (PCL) as a shape memory polymer (SMP) may be improved by accelerating its degradation. Recently, we have reported novel semi-interpenetrating networks (semi-IPNs) composed of cross-linked PCL diacrylate (PCL-DA) and thermoplastic poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) that exhibited SMP behavior, accelerated degradation, and enhanced moduli versus the PCL-DA control. Herein, we systematically varied the thermoplastic component of the PCL-based semi-IPNs, incorporating homo- and copolymers based on lactic acid of different Mn, hydrophilicity, and crystallinity. Specifically, semicrystalline PLLAs of different Mns (7.5, 15, 30, and 120 kDa) were explored as the thermoplastics in the semi-IPNs. Additionally, to probe crystallinity and hydrophilicity, amorphous (or nearly amorphous) thermoplastics of different hydrophilicities (PDLLA and PLGAs 85:15, 70:30, and 50:50, l-lactide:glycolide mole % ratio) were employed. For all semi-IPNs, the wt % ratio of the cross-linked PCL-DA to thermoplastic was 75:25. The nature of the thermoplastics was linked to semi-IPN miscibility and the trends in accelerated degradation rates.