Nanoink Find New Application for DPN Technology in Biomaterials

Published on October 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

NanoInk, leaders in nanofabrication applications and instrumentation, announce a new and significant application with excellent potential in biomedical engineering.

Schematic of the transformation of the deposited polymer into a nanoscale three dimensional hydrogel network.

Using surface topography and chemistry to manipulate cells and tissue in a predictable manner is long term goal of biomaterials researchers. Unfortunately, biological systems are inherently complex and making surfaces with the necessary micro and nanoscale features can be expensive and time consuming. Being able to perform rapid prototyping experiments on length scales of less than two microns opens new opportunities for researchers. The deposition of biocompatible polymers onto a range of substrates offers the ability to understand the binding between cells and surfaces as well as exploring how arbitrary patterns affect cell morphology and behavior. While this is in the early stages of development, the potential for applications in tissue engineering, scaffolds, protein arrays, and neuroscience make this a significant breakthrough.

Using NanoInk’s unique patented process of Dip Pen Nanolithography® (DPN®), biocompatible polymers function as simple DPN “inks” enabling one to directly deposit nanoscale features of the polymer, either pure or mixed with some molecule, dye, protein, or peptide. Then, after deposition and depending on the specific polymer, there is a crosslinking step that can be induced by UV, pH or simply heating, transforming the deposited polymer into a nanoscale three dimensional hydrogel network.

There are unique applications in cell motility studies as it is now possible to pattern multiple hydrogels, each with a different cell binding protein or peptide, all in a single parallel experiment. The process can be controlled such that the chemical binding of the hydrogel is altered while retaining its size. This alone will help cut down on the unknowns in biomaterials engineering experiments and finally give researchers the ability to answer many long standing questions about scaffold/substrate and scaffold/cell binding. This opens the way to rapid prototyping of different hydrogel combinations without changing the overall DPN deposition characteristics.

This is a ready-to-use application since no extensive ink development is required. The researcher just has to add the appropriate biomolecule to the hydrogel precursor and commence deposition. As the deposition characteristics are determined by the gel, not the encapsulated biomolecules, the possibilities for this new application of DPN are huge.

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