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Cha, Chaenyung
Integrative Biomaterials Engineering Lab.
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Enhancing the Biocompatibility of Microfluidics-Assisted Microgel Fabrication with Channel Geometry

Kim, SuntaeOh, JonghyunCha, Chaenyung
Issued Date
2017 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit
Microfluidic flow-focusing devices (FFD) are widely used to generate monodisperse droplets and microgels with controllable size, shape and composition for various biomedical applications. However, highly inconsistent and often low viability of cells encapsulated within the microgels prepared via microfluidic FFD has been a major concern, and yet this aspect has not been systematically explored. In this study, we demonstrate that the biocompatibility of microfluidic FFD to fabricate cell-laden microgels can be significantly enhanced by controlling the channel geometry. When a single emulsion (“single”) microfluidic FFD is used to fabricate cell-laden microgels, there
is a significant decrease and batch-to-batch variability in the cell viability, regardless of their size and composition. It is determined that during droplet generation, some of the cells are exposed to the oil phase which had a cytotoxic effect..Therefore, a microfluidic device with a sequential (‘double’) flow-focusing channels is employed instead, in which a secondary aqueous phase containing cells enters the primary aqueous phase, so the exposure of cells to the oil phase are minimized by directing them to the center of droplets. This microfluidic channel geometry significantly enhances the biocompatibility of cell-laden microgels, while maintaining the benefits of a typical microfluidic process.This study therefore provides a simple and yet highly effective strategy to improve the biocompatibility of microfluidic fabrication of cell-laden microgels.
Materials Research Society


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