WASHINGTON, Nov. 2In the emerging field of tissue engineering, scientists encourage cells to grow on carefully designed support scaffolds. The ultimate goal is to create living structures that might one day be used to replace lost or damaged tissue, but the manufacture of appropriately detailed scaffolds presents a significant challenge that has kept most tissue engineering applications confined to the research lab. Now a team of researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) eV Institute in Hannover, Germany, and the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University have modified a manufacturing technique called two-photon polymerization (2PP) to create finely detailed structures such as tissue scaffolds more quickly and efficiently than was previously possible. The new technique, which the team describes in a paper published this week in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, could help pave the way to more wide-spread clinical use of microscale medical devices.
Many important biological functions take place on the microscopic level and as medical research advances into this Lilliputian realm, scientists have turned to precise techniques such as 2PP to create the tiny tools necessary to manipulate cells and other miniscule structures. In current-generation 2PP technology, a laser pulse that lasts approximately one quadrillionth of a second sends a burst of energy into unset resin, causing the molecules around the pulse to fuse together into two adjoining cone shapes. By focusing on multiple points in succession, 2PP can build up complex 3D structures, cone-shaped block by cone-shaped block.
2PP can be used to manufacture devices from a wide range of base materials and does not require extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals, or cleanroom facilities, but its main drawback is long fabrication times. Like in a tiled mosaic
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Optical Society of America