Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field aiming at the fabrication of living tissues and organs in vitro. In the group, we focus on the new strategies of formulation of biomaterials (typically hydrogels containing living cells or porous scaffolds suitable for cell seeding) at a mesoscale, i.e., at the scale of small tissues or tissue fragments (typically 100 – 1000 micrometers). In particular, we dedicate our research efforts towards:
3D printing is an additive biofabrication strategy based on the deposition of the printed biomaterial layer by layer. Among multiple challenges associated with this emerging technology (bioink formulations, structure stabilization, spatial resolution, throughput) we focus on the printing of microfluidic emulsions foams or suspensions. The discrete structure of such ‘bioinks’ elevates the complexity of the system but also enables new functionalities. For example, microfluidics allows to address individual droplets or bubbles which can be used to print compartmentalized structures with compartments of different content (e.g. different cells) or to formulate functionally graded porous structures, e.g., with spatially varying pore size.
Droplet microfluidics is a set of techniques associated with the generation and manipulation of droplets ‘on-chip’, typically inside microchannels. The main expertise of the group in this area covers high throughput droplet generation, formulation of multiple emulsions, as well as generation of hydrogel microbeads from microdroplet templates.
Soft granular matter refers to materials composed of close-packed deformable microscopic ‘grains’ (typically non-Brownian, i.e., of sizes of tens or hundreds of microns), examples including dense emulsions, foams, or microhydrogel suspensions. Whereas bulk rheological properties (flow, elasticity, plasticity) of such materials have been thoroughly investigated, the fascinating perspective of their manipulation at mesoscale, i.e., at the scale of single ‘grains’, e.g., for the purpose of assembling compartmentalized half-solid half-liquid meso-architectures (clusters, chains, arrays, etc.), have not been explored. In the group, we develop new microfluidic strategies of formulation of such structures while also exploring their application as cell scaffolds for tissue engineering.