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Advances in OptoElectronics
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 253989, 8 pages
Research Article

An Optically Controlled 3D Cell Culturing System

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2540 Dole Street, Holmes Hall 483, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

Received 2 May 2011; Revised 25 August 2011; Accepted 12 September 2011

Academic Editor: Eric Pei Yu Chiou

Copyright © 2011 Kelly S. Ishii et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A novel 3D cell culture system was developed and tested. The cell culture device consists of a microfluidic chamber on an optically absorbing substrate. Cells are suspended in a thermoresponsive hydrogel solution, and optical patterns are utilized to heat the solution, producing localized hydrogel formation around cells of interest. The hydrogel traps only the desired cells in place while also serving as a biocompatible scaffold for supporting the cultivation of cells in 3D. This is demonstrated with the trapping of MDCK II and HeLa cells. The light intensity from the optically induced hydrogel formation does not significantly affect cell viability.