Synthesis and Electrospinning of ε-Polycaprolactone-Bioactive Glass Hybrid Biomaterials via a Sol−Gel Process

Strategies of bone tissue engineering and regeneration rely on bioactive scaffolds to mimic the natural extracellular matrix (ECM) as templates onto which cells attach, multiply, migrate, and function. For this purpose, hybrid biomaterials based on smart combinations of biodegradable polymers and bioactive glasses (BGs) are of particular interest, since they exhibit tailored physical, biological, and mechanical properties, as well as predictable degradation behavior. In this study, hybrid biomaterials with different organic−inorganic ratios were successfully synthesized via a sol−gel process. Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) and tertiary bioactive glass (BG) with a glass composition of 70 mol % SiO2, 26 mol % CaO, and 4 mol % of P2O5 were used as the polymer and inorganic phases, respectively. The polymer chains were successfully introduced into the inorganic sol while the networks were formed. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetric analyses (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) were used to investigate the presence of different chemical groups, structural crystallinity, thermal property, elemental composition, and homogeneity of the synthesized hybrid biomaterials. Identification of chemical groups and the presence of molecular interaction by hydrogen bonding between the organic and inorganic phases was confirmed by FTIR. The XRD patterns showed that all PCL/BG hybrids (up to 60% polymer content) were amorphous. The TGA study revealed that the PCL/BG hybrid biomaterials were thermally stable, and good agreement was observed between the experimental and theoretical organic−inorganic ratios. The SEM/EDX results also revealed a homogeneous elemental distribution and demonstrated the successful incorporation of all the elements in the hybrid system. Finally, these synthesized hybrid biomaterials were successfully electrospun into 3D scaffolds. The resultant fibers have potential use as scaffolds for bone regeneration.