Writing in the granular gel medium

Science Advances  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500655
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500655

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Gels made from soft microscale particles smoothly transition between the fluid and solid states, making them an ideal medium in which to create macroscopic structures with microscopic precision. While tracing out spatial paths with an injection tip, the granular gel fluidizes at the point of injection and then rapidly solidifies, trapping injected material in place. This physical approach to creating three-dimensional (3D) structures negates the effects of surface tension, gravity, and particle diffusion, allowing a limitless breadth of materials to be written. With this method, we used silicones, hydrogels, colloids, and living cells to create complex large aspect ratio 3D objects, thin closed shells, and hierarchically branched tubular networks. We crosslinked polymeric materials and removed them from the granular gel, whereas uncrosslinked particulate systems were left supported within the medium for long times. This approach can be immediately used in diverse areas, contributing to tissue engineering, flexible electronics, particle engineering, smart materials, and encapsulation technologies.

  • 3D printin
  • soft matter physics
  • manufacturing
  • rapid prototyping
  • microgel
  • granular gel
  • carbopol
  • yield stress
  • cell printing

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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