Femtosecond laser induced densification within cell-laden hydrogels results in cellular alignment

Zheng Xiong, Haiyan Li, Puskal Kunwar, Yin Zhu, Rafael Ramos, Shannon McLoughlin, Tackla Winston, Zhen Ma, Pranav Soman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The unique capabilities of ultrafast lasers to introduce user-defined microscale modifications within 3D cell-laden hydrogels have been used to investigate fundamental cellular phenomenon such as adhesion, alignment, migration and organization. In this work, we report a new material modification phenomenon coined as 'densification' and its influence on the behavior of encapsulated cells. Femtosecond laser writing technique was used to write densified lines of width 1-5 μm within the bulk of gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) constructs. We found that densified micro-lines within cell-laden GelMA constructs resulted in preferential and localized alignment of encapsulated human endothelial cells. Degree of cellular alignment was characterized as a function of cell-culture time and the spacing between the densified line patterns. This phenomenon was found to be true for several cell lines, including mouse fibroblasts and osteocytes, and mesenchymal stem cells derived from human induced pluripotent cells. This first report of physical densification using fs lasers can be potentially extended for investigating cell behavior within other photosensitive hydrogels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035005
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cell encapsulation
  • Cellular alignment
  • Densification
  • Femtosecond laser
  • Gelatin methacrylate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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