Photopatterning of hydrogel microarryas in closed microchips

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    To date, optical lithography has been extensively used for in situ patterning of hydrogel structures in a scale range from hundreds of microns to a few millimeters. The two main limitations which prevent smaller feature sizes of hydrogel structures are (1) the upper glass layer of a microchip maintains a large spacing (typically 525 mu m) between the photomask and hydrogel precursor, leading to diffraction of UV light at the edges of mask patterns, (2) diffusion of free radicals and monomers results in irregular polymerization near the illumination interface. In this work, we present a simple approach to enable the use of optical lithography to fabricate hydrogel arrays with a minimum feature size of 4 mu m inside closed microchips. To achieve this, we combined two different techniques. First, the upper glass layer of the microchip was thinned by mechanical polishing to reduce the spacing between the photomask and hydrogel precursor, and thereby the diffraction of UV light at the edges of mask patterns. The polishing process reduces the upper layer thickness from similar to 525 to similar to 100 mu m, and the mean surface roughness from 20 to 3 nm. Second, we developed an intermittent illumination technique consisting of short illumination periods followed by relatively longer dark periods, which decrease the diffusion of monomers. Combination of these two methods allows for fabrication of 0.4 x 10(6) sub-10 mu m sized hydrogel patterns over large areas (cm(2)) with high reproducibility (similar to 98.5% patterning success). The patterning method is tested with two different types of photopolymerizing hydrogels: polyacrylamide and polyethylene glycol diacrylate. This method enables in situ fabrication of well-defined hydrogel patterns and presents a simple approach to fabricate 3-D hydrogel matrices for biomolecule separation, biosensing, tissue engineering, and immobilized protein microarray applications
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)3802-3810
    Number of pages9
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


    • EWI-27094
    • METIS-318467
    • IR-101015
    • 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01104

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