Recent Advances in Microgels: From Biomolecules to Functionality.
The emerging applications of hydrogel materials at different length scales, in areas ranging from sustainability to health, have driven the progress in the design and manufacturing of microgels. Microgels can provide miniaturized, monodisperse, and regulatable compartments, which can be spatially separated or interconnected. These microscopic materials provide novel opportunities for generating biomimetic cell culture environments and are thus key to the advances of modern biomedical research. The evolution of the physical and chemical properties has, furthermore, highlighted the potentials of microgels in the context of materials science and bioengineering. This review describes the recent research progress in the fabrication, characterization, and applications of microgels generated from biomolecular building blocks. A key enabling technology allowing the tailoring of the properties of microgels is their synthesis through microfluidic technologies, and this paper highlights recent advances in these areas and their impact on expanding the physicochemical parameter space accessible using microgels. This review finally discusses the emerging roles that microgels play in liquid-liquid phase separation, micromechanics, biosensors, and regenerative medicine.
Funder: Jardine Foundation
Funder: Trinity College Cambridge
Funder: China Scholarship Council; Id: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100004543
Funder: Trinity College Krishnan‐Ang Studentship
Funder: Honorary Trinity‐Henry Barlow Scholarship
Funder: Newman Foundation
Funder: European Research Council; Id: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000781