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.