Gustavo Soto is an undergraduate researcher from University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. He is working in Dr. Kathleen Stebe’s lab.
3D Printing Micron-Scale Molds
Soft matter has been found to respond to curvature cues. These effects were initially observed in such materials as liquid crystals and particles trapped at a liquid-liquid interface, and they have now been extended to include the more complex responses of mammalian cells. Variation in surface topography can be used to determine how cells adapt to and influence their mechanical environment. Unlike isotropic, spherical particles, anisotropic particles affect their planar surroundings due to their variations in curvature field. The shape of a particle defines how it will interact with a surface or another particle, and a curved microfluidic interface is vital for the assembly and guidance of the particle structural formation. A computer-aided design program called FreeCAD was used to design molds with various curvature fields, such as sine waves, spheres-with-skirts, and cylindrical posts. The sine wave surfaces had a cross-sectional area of 1mm x 1mm and the sphere-with-skirt surfaces had a cross-sectional area of 2mm x 1mm. The feature size of these molds were at the micrometer scale, which prompted the use of the Nanoscribe Photonic Professional GT to 3D-print them on indium tin oxide (ITO) slides. A profilometer was used to measure the roughness of the curved surfaces after they were printed, and the results proved that the Nanoscribe printed smooth surfaces with radii of curvature at the micron scale. The ability to 3D print these smooth-curved surfaces gives us the opportunity to seed cells and particles to study how they interact with each other and their environment.