Complex 3D microfluidic architectures formed by mechanically guided compressive buckling


Microfluidic technologies have wide-ranging applications in chemical analysis systems, drug delivery platforms, and artificial vascular networks. This latter area is particularly relevant to 3D cell cultures, engineered tissues, and artificial organs, where volumetric capabilities in fluid distribution are essential. Existing schemes for fabricating 3D microfluidic structures are constrained in realizing desired layout designs, producing physiologically relevant microvascular structures, and/or integrating active electronic/optoelectronic/microelectromechanical components for sensing and actuation. This paper presents a guided assembly approach that bypasses these limitations to yield complex 3D microvascular structures from 2D precursors that exploit the full sophistication of 2D fabrication methods. The capabilities extend to feature sizes <5 mu m, in extended arrays and with various embedded sensors and actuators, across wide ranges of overall dimensions, in a parallel, high-throughput process. Examples include 3D microvascular networks with sophisticated layouts, deterministically designed and constructed to expand the geometries and operating features of artificial vascular networks.