Creating Hydrogel Microfluidic Devices for 3D Tissue Engineering Applications

Primary Advisor: Christine Trinkle, Mechanical Engineering
Co-advisor: Brad Berron, Chemical Engineering

All living systems have a need to transport critical nutrients throughout their structures. This need is a critical challenge in the next generation of medical devices which use live cells to perform basic functions. It is also one of the primary challenges in engineering thick three-dimensional tissues. In these systems, the flow of nutrients needs to be uniform throughout the material at the micron-scale. In vivo, this is accomplished by an integrated circulatory system, but the detailed multi-scale geometry involved is particularly difficult to recreate ex vivo. In this project, we seek to use lithography-based microfabrication to generate 3D cell/hydrogel structures with embedded microfluidic channels.

Objective: To develop hydrogel-based microfluidic devices that mimic in vivo blood flow

Major project outcomes:

  • Develop a technique for creating multi-layered PEG-diacrylate and collagen microfluidic devices.
  • Measure the accuracy of the patterning and adhesion strength between layers.
  • Measure the distribution of materials flowing through the micropatterned device.
  • Incorporate cells in the devices and measure long-term viability.

Potential methods the student will use: microfluidic device manufacturing, cell culture, polymer chemistry, photochemistry, microscopy techniques.