Laser-assisted sequential additive-subtractive printing of hydrogel chips

Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical and Chemical Engineering


Pranav Soman


chip, DMD, fs-laser, Hydrogel

Subject Categories



Hydrogel chips that can be used for both cell culturing and investigating cell interaction are getting more attention from scientists due to their biocompatibility, and their ability to mimic in vivo like physical environments. However, use of hydrogel chips are limited by the current fabricating methods. Although many new fabrication techniques have been developed in the past decades, quick fabrication of high-resolution and customized hydrogel chips remains a challenge. The goal of this thesis was to develop a high-resolution, user-defined hydrogel chip fabricated using a new laser-based hybrid platform, with rapid fabricating speed. The fabrication process consists of two steps: additive crosslinking using rapid projection printing enabled by digital micromirror device (DMD), followed by the subtractive high-resolution micromachining or ablation of microchannels using a focused femtosecond laser (fs-laser) source. The platform can allow researchers to fabricate high-resolution hydrogel device in micrometer level within minutes to hours, which cannot be achieved by most of the current methods. This platform can shape hydrogel materials into complex geometries that are difficult to shape and mold by other conventional methods due to its hydrated and mechanically weak material properties. In this work, we also demonstrate a proof of concept of printing hydrogel chips for potential cell-cell communications and cell migration applications. Cell-cell communications between mice MLO-Y4 osteocytes and cell migration of Saos-2 human osteosarcoma cells were investigated by different hydrogel chips. The fabrication technology presented here provides a new way to quickly 3D prints customized hydrogel chips without the use of expensive, time-consuming and expertise-driven micro/nano-fabrication cleanroom facilities.


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