Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36095325
Link to DOI – 10.1002/adma.202204301
Adv Mater 2022 Nov; 34(45): e2204301
Cell-laden hydrogels used in tissue engineering generally lack sufficient 3D topographical guidance for cells to mature into aligned tissues. A new strategy called filamented light (FLight) biofabrication rapidly creates hydrogels composed of unidirectional microfilament networks, with diameters on the length scale of single cells. Due to optical modulation instability, a light beam is divided optically into FLight beams. Local polymerization of a photoactive resin is triggered, leading to local increase in refractive index, which itself creates self-focusing waveguides and further polymerization of photoresin into long hydrogel microfilaments. Diameter and spacing of the microfilaments can be tuned from 2 to 30 µm by changing the coherence length of the light beam. Microfilaments show outstanding cell instructive properties with fibroblasts, tenocytes, endothelial cells, and myoblasts, influencing cell alignment, nuclear deformation, and extracellular matrix deposition. FLight is compatible with multiple types of photoresins and allows for biofabrication of centimeter-scale hydrogel constructs with excellent cell viability within seconds (<10 s per construct). Multidirectional microfilaments are achievable within a single hydrogel construct by changing the direction of FLight projection, and complex multimaterial/multicellular tissue-engineered constructs are possible by sequentially exchanging the cell-laden photoresin. FLight offers a transformational approach to developing anisotropic tissues using photo-crosslinkable biomaterials.