Efficient Device for Manufacturing Nanoporous Membranes and 3-D Scaffolds for Tissue Culture

Technology #13676

Utilizes Stamp-thru-mold Procedure to Pattern Nanoporous Membrane

This efficient, cost-effective device produces superior-quality nanoporous membranes and three-dimensional nanoporous structures used in medical-tissue scaffolding. Since these membranes and structures are formed by stacking directionally controlled nanofibers using the unique stamp-thru-mold process, the membranes and 3-D scaffolds can have nanoscopic morphology with microscopic size control in lateral and vertical dimension. They provide a solid structure that mimics the environment found in the human body, which is useful for human cell and tissue culture. The device uses a mechanical patterning approach rather than photolithography or other approaches involving chemicals. This powerful feature puts at the user’s disposal biocompatible materials that previously could not be employed to manufacture micropatterned nanoporous membranes due to chemical contamination concerns. Researchers are increasingly mindful of the shortcomings of 2-D cell culture and their effect on the value and relevance of their studies. The device can control the porosity of the membranes and the dimension of 3-D nanoporous structures, and can customize the composition of each layer (e.g., installing gradients to direct cell growth) at the nanofiber production stage. These superior membranes and 3-D nano scaffolds are more versatile, reliable and better suited to uses such as cell culture and tissue scaffolding. The system of production is not only faster but is also more cost-effective and manufacturable.

Application

Device that uses stamp-thru-mold process to pattern an electrospun nanoporous membrane and 3-D tissue scaffold

Advantages

  • Produces superior-quality membranes with control over porosity, providing a competitive advantage
  • Enables micropatterning of membranes, preserving the chemical and biological characteristics and broadening the range of materials that can be used
  • Confers versatility and multifunctionality to membranes, allowing customization of each layer
  • Increases process resolution and scalability through adoption of high-resolution mold patterns, producing higher quality fibers, membranes, and 3-D nanoporous structures
  • Does not require cleanroom or expensive equipment, reducing costs
  • Mold can be used repeatedly, minimizing downtime

Technology

Electrospun nanoporous membranes are membranes created from a substance (usually a polymer)that is electrically charged, then ejected in a pattern onto an opposite electrically charged plate. The opposite charges attract and the substance sticks to the surface of the plate in a specific pattern set by the user. The device developed by UF researchers uses a similar process with some important modifications and additional patterning processes. An electrospinning-stamp-thru-mold (ESTM) patterning technique is applied to mechanically define micro and meso patterns in the nanoporous membrane, resulting in 3-D nanoporous micro/meso scaffold, obviating the need for photoinitiators and/or solvents that may contaminate the product. The resulting stackable membranes are versatile and multifunctional, as fiber composition can be customized as needed and mimic the 3-D environment found in the human body, providing a desirable foundation for tissue scaffolding and cell culture.