We describe the self-folding of photopatterned poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based hydrogel bilayers into curved and anatomically relevant micrometer-scale geometries. The PEG bilayers consist of two different molecular weights (MWs) and are photocrosslinked en masse using conventional photolithography. Self-folding is driven by differential swelling of the two PEG bilayers in aqueous solutions. We characterize the self-folding of PEG bilayers of varying composition and develop a finite element model which predicts radii of curvature that are in good agreement with empirical results. Since we envision the utility of bio-origami in tissue engineering, we photoencapsulate insulin secreting β-TC-6 cells within PEG bilayers and subsequently self-fold them into cylindrical hydrogels of different radii. Calcein AM staining and ELISA measurements are used to monitor cell proliferation and insulin production respectively, and the results indicate cell viability and robust insulin production for over eight weeks in culture.
Hydrogel bilayers containing photoencapsulated cells self-fold into curved and micropatterned bio-origami geometries. Self-folding is driven by differential swelling of the hydrogel layers and a variety of microstructured bilayers can be photopatterned simultaneously. Bio-origami hydrogels can be used to direct the growth of cells into anatomically relevant 3D geometries for long-term cell culture studies.