Nanofibrous hydrogel composites as mechanically robust tissue engineering scaffolds.
Hydrogels closely resemble the extracellular matrix (ECM) and can support cell proliferation while new tissue is formed, making them materials of choice as tissue engineering scaffolds. However, their sometimes-poor mechanical properties can hinder their application. The addition of meshes of nanofibers embedded in their matrix forms a composite that draws from the advantages of both components. Given that these materials are still in the early stages of development, there is a lack of uniformity across methods for characterizing their mechanical properties. Here, we propose a simple metric to enable comparisons between materials. The fibrous constituent improves the mechanical properties of the hydrogel, while the biocompatibility and functionality of the gels are maintained or even improved.