3D high spatial resolution visualisation and quantification of interconnectivity in polymer films

July 11, 2020

Cecilia Fager (1), Sandra Barman (2) Magnus Roding (3), Anna Olsson (4), Niklas Lorén (1,3), Christian von Corswant (4), David Bolin (5), Holger Rootzén (2), Eva Olsson (1)

International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 587, 25 September 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2020.119622


Interconnectivity; Visualisation; 3D; Porosity; Polymer; Focused ion beam; Scanning electron microscopy; Geodesic paths; Geodesic channels; Bottlenecks


A porous network acts as transport paths for drugs through films for controlled drug release. The interconnectivity of the network strongly influences the transport properties. It is therefore important to quantify the interconnectivity and correlate it to transport properties for control and design of new films. This work presents a novel method for 3D visualisation and analysis of interconnectivity. High spatial resolution 3D data on porous polymer films for controlled drug release has been acquired using a focused ion beam (FIB) combined with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The data analysis method enables visualisation of pore paths starting at a chosen inlet pore, dividing them into groups by length, enabling a more detailed quantification and visualisation. The method also enables identification of central features of the porous network by quantification of channels where pore paths coincide. The method was applied to FIB-SEM data of three leached ethyl cellulose (EC)/hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) films with different weight percentages. The results from the analysis were consistent with the experimentally measured release properties of the films. The interconnectivity and porosity increase with increasing amount of HPC. The bottleneck effect was strong in the leached film with lowest porosity.

Author Affiliation

(1) Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-41296 Gothenburg, Sweden
(2) Department of Mathematical Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology and University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
(3) RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Agriculture and Food, Gothenburg, Sweden
(4) AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal, SE43183 Mölndal, Sweden
(5) CEMSE Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia