Non-planar microstructure-based tissue culture devices have emerged as powerful tools to mimic in vivo physiological microenvironments in a wide range of medical applications. Here we report a spontaneous aqueous molding approach-inspired by Stenocara gracilipes beetles-to rapidly fabricate non-planar microstructure devices for facilitating tissue-based bioassays. The device fabrication is determined from the self-assembled liquid morphology, which is induced by condensation or guided by surface tension. Through experiments and modeling, we reveal that the molding mainly comprises two typical circular and striped domains, highlighting versatile applications for bioengineering. In addition, the molding characteristic is dependent on the geometry of the patterned wetting surfaces, the working volume of the liquid, and the interaction between the liquid and the substrate. The theoretical model, based on the geometry of the patterned liquid, is highly consistent with experimental data. We also demonstrate that our approach can facilitate the culturing of tumor spheroids incorporated with biomimic nano-cilia, rapid high-throughput drug screening, tumor spheroid migration assay, and in vitro modeling of blood vessels. Remarkably, the delivery of multiple concentrations of drugs and their associate mixtures (a total of 25 test spots in one device) can be carried out simultaneously within seconds. Taken together, these insights may offer new opportunities to tailor non-planar microstructures, and our proposed methodology can be applicable for the emerging needs in tumor cell biology and tissue engineering.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering