The suitability of porous silicon (pSi) encapsulated in microfibers of the biodegradable polymer polycaprolactone (PCL) for ophthalmic applications was evaluated, using both a cell attachment assay with epithelial cells and an in vivo assessment of biocompatibility in rats. Microfibers of PCL containing encapsulated pSi particles at two different concentrations (6 and 20 wt.%) were fabricated as non-woven fabrics. Given the dependence of Si particle dissolution kinetics on pSi surface chemistry, two different types of pSi particles (hydride-terminated and surface-oxidized) were evaluated for each of the two particle concentrations. Significant attachment of a human lens epithelial cell line (SRA 01/04) to all four types of scaffolds within a 24 h period was observed. Implantation of Si fabric samples beneath the conjunctiva of rat eyes for 8 weeks demonstrated that the composite materials did not cause visible infection or inflammation, and did not erode the ocular surface. We suggest that these novel composite materials hold considerable promise as scaffolds in tissue engineering with controlled release applications.
- Porous silicon