Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Effective Light Directed Assembly of Building Blocks with Microscale Control

Ngoc-Duy Dinh, Rongcong Luo, Maria Tankeh Asuncion Christine, Weikang Nicholas Lin, Wei-Chuan Shih, James Cho-Hong Goh, Chia-Hung Chen

Light-directed forces have been widely used to pattern micro/nanoscale objects with precise control, forming functional assemblies. However, a substantial laser intensity is required to generate sufficient optical gradient forces to move a small object in a certain direction, causing limited throughput for applications. A high-throughput light-directed assembly is demonstrated as a printing technology by introducing gold nanorods to induce thermal convection flows that move microparticles (diameter = 40 µm to several hundreds of micrometers) to specific light-guided locations, forming desired patterns. With the advantage of effective light-directed assembly, the microfluidic-fabricated monodispersed biocompatible microparticles are used as building blocks to construct a structured assembly (≈10 cm scale) in ≈2 min. The control with microscale precision is approached by changing the size of the laser light spot. After crosslinking assembly of building blocks, a novel soft material with wanted pattern is approached. To demonstrate its application, the mesenchymal stem-cell-seeded hydrogel microparticles are prepared as functional building blocks to construct scaffold-free tissues with desired structures. This light-directed fabrication method can be applied to integrate different building units, enabling the bottom-up formation of materials with precise control over their internal structure for bioprinting, tissue engineering, and advanced manufacturing.

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