Capillary Pinning Assisted Patterning of Cell-Laden Hydrogel Microarrays in Microchips

  • Burcu Gumuscu
  • Jan C. T. Eijkel
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1771)


We present a capillary pinning technique that gives complete control on the local patterning of hydrogel structures in closed microchips. The technique relies on selective trapping of liquids at predefined locations in a microchip using capillary barriers. In selective patterning, the abrupt expansion in the cross-sectional geometry of a microchannel at capillary barriers results in a confined advancement of the liquid–air meniscus. This protocol describes a detailed procedure to design and fabricate microarrays of different hydrogel types, fabricated with photopolymerization or thermogelation. The process can be subdivided into two parts. First, a PDMS microchip containing microfeatures with customized patterns is fabricated. Second, the microchip is filled with a hydrogel precursor to be cross-linked by either photopolymerization or thermogelation. The production of the microchip takes approximately 2 days, depending on the substrate selection. Preparation of the hydrogel solutions takes 1–2 h, whereas the patterning and reaction to cross-link the hydrogels is completed in a few minutes.

Key words

Hydrogel microarrays Polyacrylamide Polyethylene glycol diacrylate Collagen Microfluidic chip UV induced polymerization Thermogelation Fabrication Cell-laden hydrogel arrays 



This work was supported by the Dutch network for Nanotechnology NanoNext NL, in the subprogram of “Nanofluidics for Lab-on-a-chip.” The authors thank Johan G. Bomer for his help during the development of SU-8 master fabrication procedure.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip Group, MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical MedicineUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.California Institute for Quantitative BiosciencesUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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