Light-assisted direct-write of 3D functional biomaterials
Light-assisted 3D direct-printing of biomaterials and cellular-scaffolds has the potential to develop novel lab-on-a-chip devices (LOCs) for a variety of biomedical applications, from drug discovery and diagnostic testing to in vitro tissue engineering and regeneration. Direct-writing describes a broad family of fabrication methods that typically employ computer-controlled translational stages to manufacture structures at multi-length scales. This review focuses on light-assisted direct-write fabrication for generating 3D functional scaffolds with precise micro- and nano-architecture, using both synthetic as well as naturally derived biomaterials. Two bioprinting approaches are discussed in detail – projection printing and laser-based systems – where each method is capable of modulating multiple scaffold parameters, such as 3D architecture, mechanical properties (e.g. stiffness), Poisson's ratio, chemical gradients, biological cell distributions, and porosity. The light-assisted direct-writing techniques described in this review provide the reader with alternative approaches to fabricate 3D biomaterials for utility in LOCs.