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Lab Chip. 2009 Jul 21;9(14):2003-9. doi: 10.1039/b904984c. Epub 2009 Jun 8.

Inkjet formation of unilamellar lipid vesicles for cell-like encapsulation.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Encapsulation of macromolecules within lipid vesicles has the potential to drive biological discovery and enable development of novel, cell-like therapeutics and sensors. However, rapid and reliable production of large numbers of unilamellar vesicles loaded with unrestricted and precisely-controlled contents requires new technologies that overcome size, uniformity, and throughput limitations of existing approaches. Here we present a high-throughput microfluidic method for vesicle formation and encapsulation using an inkjet printer at rates up to 200 Hz. We show how multiple high-frequency pulses of the inkjet's piezoelectric actuator create a microfluidic jet that deforms a bilayer lipid membrane, controlling formation of individual vesicles. Variations in pulse number, pulse voltage, and solution viscosity are used to control the vesicle size. As a first step toward cell-like reconstitution using this method, we encapsulate the cytoskeletal protein actin and use co-encapsulated microspheres to track its polymerization into a densely entangled cytoskeletal network upon vesicle formation.

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