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Two-photon polymerization of hydrogels - versatile solutions to fabricate well-defined 3D structures

: Ciuciu, A.I.; Cywinski, P.J.


RSC Advances 4 (2014), Nr.85, S.45504-45516
ISSN: 2046-2069
Fraunhofer IAP ()

Hydrogels are cross-linked water-containing polymer networks that are formed by physical, ionic or covalent interactions. In recent years, they have attracted significant attention because of their unique physical properties, which make them promising materials for numerous applications in food and cosmetic processing, as well as in drug delivery and tissue engineering. Hydrogels are highly water-swellable materials, which can considerably increase in volume without losing cohesion, are biocompatible and possess excellent tissue-like physical properties, which can mimic in vivo conditions. When combined with highly precise manufacturing technologies, such as two-photon polymerization (2PP), well-defined three-dimensional structures can be obtained. These structures can become scaffolds for selective cell-entrapping, cell/drug delivery, sensing and prosthetic implants in regenerative medicine. 2PP has been distinguished from other rapid prototyping methods because it is a non-invasive and efficient approach for hydrogel cross-linking. This review discusses the 2PP-based fabrication of 3D hydrogel structures and their potential applications in biotechnology. A brief overview regarding the 2PP methodology and hydrogel properties relevant to biomedical applications is given together with a review of the most important recent achievements in the field.