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Fabrication of Designable and Suspended Microfibers via Low-Voltage 3D Micropatterning.

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Gill, Elisabeth L 
Willis, Samuel 
Gerigk, Magda 
Cohen, Paul 
Zhang, Duo 


Building two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) fibrous structures in the micro- and nanoscale will offer exciting prospects for numerous applications spanning from sensors to energy storage and tissue engineering scaffolds. Electrospinning is a well-suited technique for drawing micro- to nanoscale fibers, but current methods of building electrospun fibers in 3D are restrictive in terms of printed height, design of macroscopic fiber networks, and choice of polymer. Here, we combine low-voltage electrospinning and additive manufacturing as a method to pattern layers of suspended mesofibers. Layers of fibers are suspended between 3D-printed supports in situ in multiple fiber layers and designable orientations. We examine the key working parameters to attain a threshold for fiber suspension, use those behavioral observations to establish a "fiber suspension indicator", and demonstrate its utility through design of intricate suspended fiber architectures. Individual fibers produced by this method approach the micrometer/submicrometer scale, while the overall suspended 3D fiber architecture can span over a centimeter in height. We demonstrate an application of suspended fiber architectures in 3D cell culture, utilizing patterned fiber topography to guide the assembly of suspended high-cellular-density structures. The solution-based fiber suspension patterning process we report offers a unique competence in patterning soft polymers, including extracellular matrix-like materials, in a high resolution and aspect ratio. The platform could thus offer new design and manufacturing capabilities of devices and functional products by incorporating functional fibrous elements.



3D cell culture, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, electrospinning, fiber patterning, mesostructures, solution processing

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ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

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American Chemical Society (ACS)


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European Research Council (758865)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M018989/1)
This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, EP/M018989/1) and European Research Council (ERC-StG, 758865), and E.L.G. was a grateful recipient of a WD Armstrong Trust Studentship. M.G. is a recipient of a Cambridge Centre CRUK Multidisciplinary studentship, and D.Z. gratefully acknowledges support from the China Scholarship Council.