Alessandro Alcinesio 1 , Oliver J. Meacock 2 , 4 , Rebecca G. Allan 1 , 5 , Carina Monico 3 , Vanessa Restrepo Schild 1 , Idil Cazimoglu 1 , Matthew T. Cornall 1 , Ravinash Krishna Kumar , 1 , Hagan Bayley , 1
30 April 2020
3D-printing networks of droplets connected by interface bilayers are a powerful platform to build synthetic tissues in which functionality relies on precisely ordered structures. However, the structural precision and consistency in assembling these structures is currently limited, which restricts intricate designs and the complexity of functions performed by synthetic tissues. Here, we report that the equilibrium contact angle ( θ DIB) between a pair of droplets is a key parameter that dictates the tessellation and precise positioning of hundreds of picolitre-sized droplets within 3D-printed, multi-layer networks. When θ DIB approximates the geometrically-derived critical angle ( θ c) of 35.3°, the resulting networks of droplets arrange in regular hexagonal close-packed (hcp) lattices with the least fraction of defects. With this improved control over droplet packing, we can 3D-print functional synthetic tissues with single-droplet-wide conductive pathways. Our new insights into 3D droplet packing permit the fabrication of complex synthetic tissues, where precisely positioned compartments perform coordinated tasks.
Precise patterning of lipid-stabilised aqueous droplets is a key challenge in building synthetic tissue designs. Here, the authors show how the interactions between pairs of droplets direct the packing of droplets within 3D-printed networks, enabling the formation of synthetic tissues with high-resolution features.