Authors Weigel, N. ; Li, Y. ; Fery, A. ; Thiele, J.
Title From microfluidics to hierarchical hydrogel materials
Date 01.04.2023
Abstract Over the past two decades, microfluidics has made significant contributions to material and life sciences, particularly via the design of nano-, micro- and mesoscale materials such as nanoparticles, micelles, vesicles, emulsion droplets, and microgels. Unmatched in control over a multitude of material parameters, microfluidics has also shed light on fundamental aspects of material design such as the early stages of nucleation and growth processes as well as structure evolution. Exemplarily, polymer hydrogel particles can be formed via microfluidics with exact control over size, shape, functionalization, compartmentalization, and mechanics that is hardly found in any other processing method. Interestingly, the utilization of microfluidics for material design largely focuses on the fabrication of single entities that act as reaction volume for organic and cell-free biosynthesis, cell mimics, or local environment for cell culturing. In recent years, however, hydrogel design has shifted towards structures that integrate a large variety of functions, e.g., to address the demands for sensing tasks in a complex environment or more closely mimicking architecture and organization of tissue by multiparametric cultures. Hence, this review provides an overview of recent literature that explores microfluidics for fabricating hydrogel materials that go well beyond common length scales as well as the structural and functional complexity of microgels necessary to produce hierarchical hydrogel structures. We focus on examples that utilize microfluidics to design microgel-based assemblies, on microfluidically made polymer microgels for 3D bioprinting, on hydrogels fabricated by microfluidics in a continuous fashion, like fibers, and on hydrogel structures that are shaped by microchannels.
Journal Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science 64 (2023) 101673

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