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Two-Photon Polymerized Shape Memory Microfibers: A New Mechanical Characterization Method in Liquid

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Advanced Functional Materials
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Two-photon polymerization (TPP) is widely used to create 3D micro- and nanoscale scaffolds for biological and mechanobiological studies, which often require the mechanical characterization of the TPP fabricated structures. To satisfy physiological requirements, most of the mechanical characterizations need to be conducted in liquid. However, previous characterizations of TPP fabricated structures are all conducted in air due to the limitation of conventional micro- and nanoscale mechanical testing methods. In this study, a new experimental method is reported for testing the mechanical properties of TPP-printed microfibers in liquid. The experiments show that the mechanical behaviors of the microfibers tested in liquid are significantly different from those tested in air. By controlling the TPP writing parameters, the mechanical properties of the microfibers can be tailored over a wide range to meet a variety of mechanobiology applications. In addition, it is found that, in water, the plasticly deformed microfibers can return to their predeformed shape after tensile strain is released. The shape recovery time is dependent on the size of microfibers. The experimental method represents a significant advancement in mechanical testing of TPP fabricated structures and may help release the full potential of TPP fabricated 3D tissue scaffolds for mechanobiological studies.