Nature has created many perfect helical microstructures, including DNA, collagen fibrils, and helical blood vessels, to achieve unique physiological functions. While previous studies have developed a number of microfabrication strategies, the preparation of complex helical structures and cell-laden helical structures for biomimetic applications remains challenging. In this study, a one-step microfluidics-based methodology is presented for preparing complex helical hydrogel microfibers and cell-laden helical hydrogel microfibers. Several types of complex helical structures, including multilayer helical microfibers and superhelical hollow microfibers with helical channels, are prepared by simply tuning the flow rates or modifying the geometry of microfluidic device. With the decent perfusability, the hollow microfibers may simulate the structural characteristics of helical blood vessels and create swirling blood flow in a blood-vessel-on-chip setup. Such hydrogel-based helical microstructures may potentially be used in areas such as blood vessel tissue engineering, organ-on-chips, drug screening, and biological actuators.
- helical microfibers