This study demonstrates a method for producing ordered collagen fibrils on a similar length scale to those in the cornea, using a one-pot liquid-phase synthesis. The alignment persists throughout samples on the mm scale. The addition of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), a biocompatible and widely available material, to collagen prior to gelation causes the fibrils to align and achieve a narrow size distribution (36 ± 8 nm). The effects of NCC loading in the composites on microstructure, transparency and biocompatibility are studied by scanning electron microscopy, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy and cell growth experiments. A 2% loading of NCC increases the transparency of collagen while producing an ordered microstructure. A mechanism is proposed for the ordering behavior on the basis of enhanced hydrogen bonding during collagen gel formation.
- Artificial cornea
- Nanocrystalline cellulose