A generic widefield topographical and chemical photopatterning method for hydrogels.
. 2018-07-20; :
Physiologically relevant cell-based models require engineered microenvironments which recapitulate the topographical, biochemical and mechanical properties encountered in vivo. In this context hydrogels are the materials of choice. However, shaping hydrogels at the cellular scale and tuning their chemical properties requires deep investment in custom chemistry and devices while more accessible ones lack a simple structuration and functionalization mean. Here, we show how the most commonly used hydrogels (i.e. Matrigel, Agar, PEG, Polyacrylamide) can be finely structured and spatially functionalized by exploiting oxygen and radical photochemistry together with a widefield patterned UV light illumination. Our generic hydrogel microfabrication platform can be used to grow neurons and cell lines onto chemically and topographically complex PEG gels, inside engineered Matrigel structures or within microfluidic chambers. Our findings demonstrate that oxygen-controlled polymerization and photo-scission unlock the engineering of hydrogels that lack a dedicated chemistry.