Influence of expansion cooling regime on morphology of poly(Epsilon-caprolactone) foams prepared by pressure quenching using supercritical CO2


Creation of foam structures from hydrolytically degradable poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) is a current task in biomaterial research. One example are degradable scaffolds. The thermodynamic and kinetic conditions in a supercritical CO2 (scCO2) supported foaming process of PCL can influence the resulting morphology of the foam. PCL foaming with scCO2 was systematically investigated in the pressure range from 78 to 200 bar at temperatures between 25°C and 50°C with the help of a view cell. PCL foams could be obtained at both conditions above the pressure dependent melting temperature as well as below this temperature, i.e. from supercooled melt states. Differential scanning calorimetry investigations of the PCL foam samples were used for the analysis of the relationship between pore morphology and foaming conditions. Three characteristic regions could be distinguished in the PCL/CO2 phase diagram. Only when the foaming was conducted above the critical temperature of CO2, a significant influence of the depressurization rate could be observed. Here, an increase in the quenching rate resulted in a decreasing pore size while the pore density was found to increase.
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