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3-D Printing

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Laser cut

by Manny I. Fox Morone
December 28, 2022


A dish holds a small teal grid of 16 squares made out of gel. The lines of the grid have crinkled up and turned into squiggles as the gel has swelled with water.
Credit: Hitendra Kumar and Zhangkang Li

Hitendra Kumar of the University of Calgary and Zhangkang Li, a PhD student in his lab, are creating hydrogels like this one that can house cells and maybe one day mimic living organs. But before they do that, they still need to make systems where they can run experiments to see how cells grow and interact in various 3D gel environments. So the team is working on a 3D printing technique for creating small, intricate shapes out of hydrogels filled with cells. To create this grid, they mixed cells with a solution of a monomer that can spontaneously crosslink when exposed to blue laser light. And by using a 3D printer whose printhead was replaced with a laser, they traced small, intricate designs in the solution using the laser and created a tiny 3D object. Originally, the grid had straight lines and right angles, but after the gel soaked up a solution with dye in it, the lines crinkled and turned teal.

Submitted by Hitendra Kumar and Zhangkang Li

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