Engineering Photo-Cross-Linkable MXene-Based Hydrogels: Durable Conductive Biomaterials for Electroactive Tissues and Interfaces

Roya Lotfi, Nooshin Zandi, Ali Pourjavadi, Jesper De C. Christiansen, Leonid Gurevich, Mehdi Mehrali, Alireza Dolatshahi-Pirouz, Cristian Pablo Pennisi, Elnaz Tamjid, Abdolreza Simchi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Light-cured conductive hydrogels have attracted immense interest in the regeneration of electroactive tissues and bioelectronic interfaces. Despite the unique properties of MXene (MX), its light-blocking effect in the range of 300-600 nm hinders the efficient cross-linking of photocurable hydrogels. In this study, we investigated the photo-cross-linking process of MX-gelatin methacrylate (GelMa) composites with different types of photoinitiators and MX concentrations to prepare biocompatible, injectable, conductive, and photocurable composite hydrogels. The examined photoinitiators were Eosin Y, Irgacure 2959 (Type I), and lithium phenyl-2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl phosphinate (Type II). The light-blocking effect of MX strongly affected the thickness, pore structure, swelling ratio, degradation, and mechanical properties of the light-cured hydrogels. Uniform distribution of MX in the hydrogel matrix was achieved at concentrations up to 0.04 wt % but the film thickness and curing times varied depending on the type of photoinitiator. It was feasible to prepare thin films (0.5 mm) by employing Type I photoinitiators under a relatively long light irradiation (4-5 min) while thick films with centimeter sizes could be rapidly cured by using Type II photoinitiator (<60 s). The mechanical properties, including elastic modulus, toughness, and stress to break for the Type II hydrogels were significantly superior (up to 300%) to those of Type I hydrogels depending on the MX concentration. The swelling ratio was also remarkably higher (648-1274%). A conductivity of about 1 mS/cm was attained at 0.1 mg/mL MX for the composite hydrogel cured by the Type I photoinitiator. In vitro cytocompatibility assays determined that the hydrogels promoted cell viability, metabolic activity, and robust proliferation of C2C12 myoblasts, which indicated their potential to support muscle cell growth during myogenesis. The developed photocurable GelMa-MX hydrogels have the potential to serve as bioactive and conductive scaffolds to modulate cellular functions and for tissue-device interfacing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Biomaterials Science &amp; Engineering
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)800-813
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2024


  • MXene
  • electro-stimuli nanocomposite
  • gelatin methacryloyl
  • photo-cross-linkable hydrogel
  • photoinitiator
  • tissue-interface engineering


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