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Technology

This invention comprises a photocatalyst, Eosin Y, which acts aqueously during the radical polymerization of hydrogel precursor polyethylene glycol dicacrylate (PEGDA) to confer resilience to oxygen inhibition. In general, photocatalysts are substances that absorb light to increase the speed of a reaction, and are able to regenerate anew for each round of reactions. Eosin Y, in particular, interacts with triethanolamine (TEOA) in a reaction cycle that is driven by two separate wavelengths of light applied at two different times during the reaction cycle. These wavelengths ensure a higher rate of catalyst regeneration and thus reduce Eosin Y “death,” or inhibition, over multiple cycles. In each reaction cycle, Eosin Y interacts with oxygen molecules to prevent them from inhibiting the polymerization of PEGDA. This mechanism, as well as the optimum wavelengths for photocatalysis, were verified with spectroscopic data. Based on these data, hundreds of O2 molecules are consumed per photon absorbed.