Facile tuning of the mechanical properties of a biocompatible soft material

Daniele Vigolo, Shivaprakash N Ramakrishna, Andrew J deMello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


Herein, we introduce a method to locally modify the mechanical properties of a soft, biocompatible material through the exploitation of the effects induced by the presence of a local temperature gradient. In our hypotheses, this induces a concentration gradient in an aqueous sodium alginate solution containing calcium carbonate particles confined within a microfluidic channel. The concentration gradient is then fixed by forming a stable calcium alginate hydrogel. The process responsible for the hydrogel formation is initiated by diffusing an acidic oil solution through a permeable membrane in a 2-layer microfluidic device, thus reducing the pH and freeing calcium ions. We characterize the gradient of mechanical properties using atomic force microscopy nanoindentation measurements for a variety of material compositions and thermal conditions. Significantly, our novel approach enables the creation of steep gradients in mechanical properties (typically between 10-100 kPa/mm) on small scales, which will be of significant use in a range of tissue engineering and cell mechanosensing studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7125
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Facile tuning of the mechanical properties of a biocompatible soft material'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this