Microgel is a kind of biocompatible polymeric material, which has been widely used as micro-carriers in materials synthesis, drug delivery and cell biology applications. However, high-throughput generation of individual microgel for on-site analysis in a microdevice still remains a challenge. Here, we presented a simple and stable droplet microfluidic system to realize high-throughput generation and trapping of individual agarose microgels based on the synergetic effect of surface tension and hydrodynamic forces in microchannels and used it for 3-D cell culture in real-time. The established system was mainly composed of droplet generators with flow focusing T-junction and a series of array individual trap structures. The whole process including the independent agarose microgel formation, immobilization in trapping array and gelation in situ via temperature cooling could be realized on the integrated microdevice completely. The performance of this system was demonstrated by successfully encapsulating and culturing adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACCM) cells in the gelated agarose microgels. This established approach is simple, easy to operate, which can not only generate the micro-carriers with different components in parallel, but also monitor the cell behavior in 3D matrix in real-time. It can also be extended for applications in the area of material synthesis and tissue engineering. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Chemistry
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics