Stereolithographic printing of ionically-crosslinked alginate hydrogels for degradable biomaterials and microfluidics†
3D printed biomaterials with spatial and temporal functionality could enable interfacial manipulation of fluid flows and motile cells. However, such dynamic biomaterials are challenging to implement since they must be responsive to multiple, biocompatible stimuli. Here, we show stereolithographic printing of hydrogels using noncovalent (ionic) crosslinking, which enables reversible patterning with controlled degradation. We demonstrate this approach using sodium alginate, photoacid generators and various combinations of divalent cation salts, which can be used to tune the hydrogel degradation kinetics, pattern fidelity, and mechanical properties. This approach is first utilized to template perfusable microfluidic channels within a second encapsulating hydrogel for T-junction and gradient devices. The presence and degradation of printed alginate microstructures were further verified to have minimal toxicity on epithelial cells. Degradable alginate barriers were used to direct collective cell migration from different initial geometries, revealing differences in front speed and leader cell formation. Overall, this demonstration of light-based 3D printing using non-covalent crosslinking may enable adaptive and stimuli-responsive biomaterials, which could be utilized for bio-inspired sensing, actuation, drug delivery, and tissue engineering.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigators