National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 61302003, 61475183 and 61503258), the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams and the Instrument Developing Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. yz201339).
Fabrication of hydrogel microstructures has attracted considerable attention. A large number of applications, such as fabricating tissue engineering scaffolds, delivering drugs to diseased tissue, and constructing extracellular matrix for studying cell behaviors, have been introduced. In this article, an ultraviolet (UV)-curing method based on a digital micromirror device (DMD) for fabricating poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel microstructures was presented. By controlling UV projection in real-time using a DMD as digital dynamic mask instead of a physical mask, polymerization of the pre-polymer solution could be controlled to create custom-designed hydrogel microstructures. Arbitrary microstructures could also be fabricated within several seconds (<5 s) using a single-exposure, providing a much higher efficiency than existing methods, while also offering a high degree of flexibility and repeatability. Moreover, different cell chains, which can be used for straightforwardly and effectively studying the cell interaction, were formed by fabricated PEGDA microstructures.