Hydrodynamic Shaping, Polymerization, and Subsequent Modification of Thiol Click Fibers

Hydrodynamic focusing in microfluidic channels is used to produce highly uniform, shaped polymer fibers at room temperature and under “green” conditions. Core streams of thiol–ene and thiol–yne prepolymer solutions were guided using a phase-matched sheath stream through microfluidic channels with grooved walls to determine shape. Size was dictated by the ratio of the flow rates of the core and sheath streams. Thiol click reactions were initiated using UV illumination to lock in predesigned cross-sectional shapes and sizes. This approach proved to be much more flexible than electrospinning in that highly uniform fibers can be produced from prepolymer solutions with varying compositions and viscosities with made-to-order sizes and shapes. Furthermore, a very simple manipulation of the composition provided reactive groups on the fiber surface for attachment of active ligands and biological components. A proof-of-principle experiment demonstrated that biotin attached to thiol groups on the fiber surface could specifically bind a fluorescent protein.