Microfluidic in situ mechanical testing of photopolymerized gels

Duprat, C., Berthet, H., Wexler, JS., du Roure, O., & Lindner, A.

Lab on a Chip (2015)  15 244

Photopolymerized fiber deformed by increasing flow rates.

Photopolymerized fiber deformed by increasing flow rates.

Gels are a functional template for micro-particle fabrication and microbiology experiments. The control and knowledge of their mechanical properties is critical in a number of applications, but no simple in situ method exists to determine these properties. We propose a novel microfluidic based method that directly measures the mechanical properties of the gel upon its fabrication. We measure the deformation of a gel beam under a controlled flow forcing, which gives us a direct access to the Young’s modulus of the material itself. We then use this method to determine the mechanical properties of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) under various experimental conditions. The mechanical properties of the gel can be highly tuned, yielding two order of magnitude in the Young’s modulus. The method can be easily implemented to allow for an in situ direct measurement and control of Young’s moduli under various experimental conditions.

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