Micro, soft, windows: integrating super-resolution viewing capabilities into soft lithographic devices
Microengineered cell culture environments afford experimentalists with the critical ability to study cells in precisely-defined, yet physiologically-realistic environments. A significant, but often overlooked, feature of these technologies is the unique ability to optically probe cellular and sub-cellular processes during culture in these complex environments, thereby obtaining information that would not be possible via conventional techniques. Motivated by the recent presentation of the Nobel prizes for super-resolution imaging and more recent technological breakthroughs in lattice-based light sheet microscopy, in this research highlight we survey recent innovations in the design of microfluidic cell culture platforms, that will ultimately allow experimentalists to probe biological activity with high-spatial and temporal-resolution. These advances will provide new technology-driven windows into biological processes and mechanisms.