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J Biomed Opt. 2012 Oct;17(10):105008. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.10.105008.

Photo-sensitive hydrogels for three-dimensional laser microfabrication in the presence of whole organisms.

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Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, Favoritenstrasse 9-11, 1040 Vienna, Austria.


Hydrogels are polymeric materials with water contents similar to that of soft tissues. Due to their biomimetic properties, they have been extensively used in various biomedical applications including cell encapsulation for tissue engineering. The utilization of photopolymers provides a possibility for the temporal and spatial controlling of hydrogel cross-links. We produced three-dimensional (3-D) hydrogel scaffolds by means of the two-photon polymerization (2PP) technique. Using a highly efficient water-soluble initiator, photopolymers with up to 80 wt.% water were processed with high precision and reproducibility at a writing speed of 10  mm/s. The biocompatibility of the applied materials was verified using Caenorhabditis elegans as living test organisms. Furthermore, these living organisms were successfully embedded within a 200×200×35 μm³ hydrogel scaffold. As most biologic tissues exhibit a window of transparency at the wavelength of the applied femtosecond laser, it is suggested that 2PP is promising for an in situ approach. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of and potential for bio-fabricating 3-D tissue constructs in the micrometre-range via near-infrared lasers in direct contact with a living organism.

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