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Creators/Authors contains: "Fang, Nicholas X."

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  1. The mechanical properties of engineering structures continuously weaken during service life because of material fatigue or degradation. By contrast, living organisms are able to strengthen their mechanical properties by regenerating parts of their structures. For example, plants strengthen their cell structures by transforming photosynthesis-produced glucose into stiff polysaccharides. In this work, we realize hybrid materials that use photosynthesis of embedded chloroplasts to remodel their microstructures. These materials can be used to three-dimensionally (3D)-print functional structures, which are endowed with matrix-strengthening and crack healing when exposed to white light. The mechanism relies on a 3D-printable polymer that allows for an additional cross-linking reaction with photosynthesis-produced glucose in the material bulk or on the interface. The remodeling behavior can be suspended by freezing chloroplasts, regulated by mechanical preloads, and reversed by environmental cues. This work opens the door for the design of hybrid synthetic-living materials, for applications such as smart composites, lightweight structures, and soft robotics.

  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 11, 2023
  3. ABSTRACT Materials processing and additive manufacturing afford exciting opportunities in biomedical research, including the study of cell-material interactions. However, some of the most efficient materials for microfabrication are not wholly suitable for biological applications, require extensive post-processing or exhibit high mechanical stiffness that limits the range of applications. Conversely, materials exhibiting high cytocompatibility and low stiffness require long processing times with typically decreased spatial resolution of features. Here, we investigated the use of hexanediol diacrylate (HDDA), a classic and efficient polymer for stereolithography, for oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) culture. We developed composite HDDA-polyethylene glycol acrylate hydrogels that exhibited high biocompatibility, mechanical stiffness in the range of muscle tissue, and high printing efficiency at ∼5 μm resolution.