Two-photon polymerization microfabrication of hydrogels: an advanced 3D printing technology for tissue engineering and drug delivery
3D printing technology has attracted much attention due to its high potential in scientific and industrial applications. As an outstanding 3D printing technology, two-photon polymerization (TPP) microfabrication has been applied in the fields of micro/nanophotonics, micro-electromechanical systems, microfluidics, biomedical implants and microdevices. In particular, TPP microfabrication is very useful in tissue engineering and drug delivery due to its powerful fabrication capability for precise microstructures with high spatial resolution on both the microscopic and the nanometric scale. The design and fabrication of 3D hydrogels widely used in tissue engineering and drug delivery has been an important research area of TPP microfabrication. The resolution is a key parameter for 3D hydrogels to simulate the native 3D environment in which the cells reside and the drug is controlled to release with optimal temporal and spatial distribution in vitro and in vivo. The resolution of 3D hydrogels largely depends on the efficiency of TPP initiators. In this paper, we will review the widely used photoresists, the development of TPP photoinitiators, the strategies for improving the resolution and the microfabrication of 3D hydrogels.