The field of developing biomolecular droplet-based materials using a bottom-up approach remains underexplored. Producing tissue-like materials, from entirely synthetic components, presents an innovative method to reconstruct the functions of life within artificial materials. Aqueous droplets, encased with lipid monolayers, may be linked via bilayer interfaces to make up structures that resemble biological tissues. Here we present the design and development of an easy-to-build 3D printer for the fabrication of tissue-like biomolecular materials from cell-sized aqueous droplets. The droplets are generated using a snap off technique, capable of generating 30 droplets per minute. The printed network of droplets may also be functionalized with various types of membrane proteins to achieve desired engineering applications like sensing and actuation, or to mimic electrical communication in biological systems. Voltage sensitive channels are introduced into selected droplets to create a conductive path with the material in the presence of an external field.
Elio J. Challita, Joseph S. Najem, Eric C. Freeman, and Donald J. Leo, "A 3D printing method for droplet-based biomolecular materials," Proc. SPIE 10167, Nanosensors, Biosensors, Info-Tech Sensors and 3D Systems 2017, 1016712 (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 28, 2017; Published: 17 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2260081.
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