Chemical and Biological Engineering ETDs


Jamie Reed

Publication Date



Stimuli responsive polymers (SRP) are of great interest in the bioengineering community due to their use in applications such as drug delivery and tissue engineering. One example of an SRP is poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) or pNIPAM. This SRP has the capability of changing its conformation with a slight temperature change: adherent mammalian cells spontaneously release as a confluent cell sheet, which can be harvested for cell sheet engineering purposes. Since its initial use in 1968, many researchers have used pNIPAM to obtain a cell sheet composed of their cell type of interest. The differing protocols used for these diverse cell types, such as the conditions used for cell detachment, and the varying methods used for derivatizing substrates with pNIPAM have all led to conflicting reports on the utility of pNIPAM for cell sheet engineering purposes, as well as the relative cytotoxicity of the polymer. In this work, some of the key inconsistencies in the literature and previously unaddressed challenges when utilizing pNIPAM films are overcome for the purpose of rapid generation of cellular constructs, specifically spheroids. Pertinent characteristics of low temperature detachment are investigated for their effect on the kinetics of cell detachment. In addition, a novel, inexpensive method for obtaining pNIPAM films for mammalian cell detachment, combining pNIPAM with a sol-gel, was optimized and compared to plasma polymerization deposition. Furthermore, proper storage conditions (e.g. temperature and relative humidity) for these films were investigated to increase stability of the films for using tissue culture conditions. To increase the speed of generation of cell sheets, electrospun mats and hydrogels with a high surface area-to-volume ratio were developed. The result is a platform appropriate for the rapid formation of cellular constructs, such as engineered tissues and spheroids for cancer cell research.


Thermoresponsive, pNIPAM, Biocompatibility, XPS, Surface analysis, Spheroids; Acrylimide--Thermal properties., Attachment mechanisms (Biology), Acrylamide--Biocompatibility., Bioengineering--Materials.

Document Type




Degree Name

Chemical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Chemical and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

Canavan, Heather

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hedberg-Dirk, Elizabeth

Second Committee Member

Freyer, James

Third Committee Member

Wandinger-Ness, Angela