All-Aqueous Freeform Fabrication of Perfusable Self-Standing Soft Compartments


Compartmentalized structures obtained in all-aqueous settings have shown promising properties as cell encapsulation devices, as well as reactors for trans-membrane chemical reactions. While most approaches focus on the preparation of spherical devices, advances on the production of complex architectures have been enabled by the interfacial stability conferred by emulsion systems, namely mild aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS), or non-equilibrated analogues. However, the application of non-spherical structures has mostly been reported while keeping the fabricated materials at a stable interface, limiting the free-standing character, mobility and transposition of the obtained structures to different setups. Here, the fabrication of self-standing, malleable and perfusable tubular systems through all-aqueous interfacial assembly is shown, culminating in the preparation of independent objects with stability and homogeneity after disruption of the polymer-based aqueous separating system. Those hollow structures can be fabricated with a variety of widths, and rapidly printed as long structures at flow rates of 15 mm s(-1). The materials are used as compartments for cell culture, showcasing high cytocompatibility, and can be tailored to promote cell adhesion. Such structures may find application in fields that benefit from freeform tubular structures, including the biomedical field with, for example, cell encapsulation, and benchtop preparation of microfluidic devices.



subject category

Chemistry; Science & Technology - Other Topics; Materials Science; Physics


Goncalves, RC; Vilabril, S; Neves, CMSS; Freire, MG; Coutinho, JAP; Oliveira, MB; Mano, JF

our authors


This work was financially supported by the European Research Council grant agreement ERC-2014-ADG-669858 (project ATLAS), by the Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalizacao, in the component FEDER, and by national funds (OE) through FCT/MCTES, in the scope of the projects TranSphera (PTDC/BTM-ORG/30770/2017) and CellFi (PTDC/BTM-ORG/3215/2020). This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020, UIDP/50011/2020, and LA/P/0006/2020; financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC (PIDDAC). M.B.O. acknowledges the individual contract 2021.03588.CEECIND. FCT also financially supported this work through individual doctoral grant 2021.07435.BD of Raquel C. Goncalves.

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