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Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels are widely used in biotechnology due to their in situ crosslinking capacity and tunable physical properties. However, as with all single component hydrogels, the modulus of PEGDA networks cannot be tailored independently of mesh size. This interdependence places significant limitations on their use for defined, 3D cell-microenvironment studies and for certain controlled release applications. The incorporation of secondary reactive species (SRS) into PEGDA hydrogels has previously been shown to allow the identification of up to 6 PEGDA hydrogel formulations for which distinct moduli can be obtained at consistent average mesh size (or vice versa). However, the modulus and mesh size ranges which can be probed by these formulations are quite restricted. This work presents an in-depth study of SRS incorporation into PEGDA hydrogels, with the goal of expanding the space for which "decoupled" examination of modulus and mesh size effects is achievable. Towards this end, over 100 PEGDA hydrogels containing either N-vinyl pyrrolidone or star PEG-tetraacrylate as SRS were characterized. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that SRS incorporation allows for the identification of a number of modulus ranges that can be probed at consistent average mesh size (or vice versa).

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Elsevier Ltd.

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