Rapid Electroformation of Biopolymer Gels in Prescribed Shapes and Patterns: A Simpler Alternative to 3-D Printing.

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TitleRapid Electroformation of Biopolymer Gels in Prescribed Shapes and Patterns: A Simpler Alternative to 3-D Printing.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGargava, A, Ahn, S, Bentley, WE, Raghavan, SR
JournalACS Appl Mater Interfaces
Volume11
Issue40
Pagination37103-37111
Date Published2019 Oct 09
ISSN1944-8252
Abstract

We demonstrate the use of to rapidly form gels of the biopolymer alginate (Alg) in specific three-dimensional (3-D) shapes and patterns. In our approach, we start with a gel of the biopolymer agarose, which is thermoresponsive and hence can be molded into a specific shape. The agarose mold is then loaded with Ca cations and placed in a beaker containing an Alg solution. The inner surface of the beaker is surrounded by aluminum foil (cathode), and a copper wire (anode) is stuck in the agarose mold. These are connected to a direct current (DC) power source, and when a potential of ∼10 V is applied, an Alg gel is formed in a shape that replicates the mold. Gelation occurs because the Ca ions electrophoretically migrate away from the mold, whereupon they cross-link the Alg chains adjacent to the mold. At low Ca (0.01 wt %), the Alg gel layer grows outward from the mold surface at a steady rate of about 0.8 mm/min, and the gel stops growing when the field is switched off. After a gel of desired thickness is formed, the agarose mold can be melted away to leave behind an Alg gel in a precise shape. Alg gels formed in this manner are transparent and robust. This process is particularly convenient to form Alg gels in the form of hollow tubes, including tubes with multiple concentric layers, each with a different payload. The technique is safe for encapsulation of biological species within a given Alg layer. We also create Alg gels in specific patterns by directing gel growth around selected regions. Overall, our technique enables lab-scale manufacturing of alginate gels in 3-D without the need for an expensive 3-D printer.

DOI10.1021/acsami.9b12575
Alternate JournalACS Appl Mater Interfaces
PubMed ID31566952