Synthesis and characterization of crosslinked electrospun fiber mats from allyl-functionalized polysuccinimide

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Polysuccinimide is a biodegradable and tissue-friendly polymer made from the renewable monomer L-aspartic acid. However, under physiological conditions (pH = 7.4) it hydrolyzes to form water-soluble poly(aspartic acid). In order to utilize this polymer to produce drug-eluting fiber mats or tissue scaffolds via electrospinning, it needs to be crosslinked. This paper will discuss the functionalization of this polymer with allyl groups (Figure 1), electrospinning it into fiber mats and crosslinking it via non-equilibrium low pressure air plasma treatment. The polymers and mats were characterized before and after plasma treatment using NMR, FTIR, XPS and SEM. After plasma treatment the fiber mat became insoluble in its original solvents (DMF and DMSO). After hydrolysis of the amide bonds into aspartic acid fiber morphology changed as shown in Figure 2. This electrospun crosslinked fiber mat shows great promise for biomedical applications.