Photothermal microneedle etching: Improved three-dimensional microfabrication method for agarose gel for topographical control of cultured cell communities

Hiroyuki Moriguchi, Kenji Yasuda

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4 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a new three-dimensional (3D) microfabrication method for agarose gel, photothermal microneedle etching (PTMNE), by means of an improved photothermal spot heating using a focused 1064nm laser beam for melting a portion of the agarose layer at the tip of the microneedle, where a photoabsorbent chromium layer is coated to be heated. The advantage of this method is that it allows the 3D control of the melting topography within the thick agarose layer with a 2 μm resolution, whereas conventional photothermal etching can enable only two-dimensional (2D) control on the surface of the chip. By this method, we can form the spheroid clusters of particular cells from isolated single cells without any physical contact with other cells in other chambers, which is important for measuring the community effect of the cell group from isolated single cells. When we set single cancer cells in microchambers of 100 μm in diameter, formed in a 50-μm-thick agarose layer, we observed that they grew, divided, and formed spheroid clusters of cells in each microchamber. The result indicates the potential of this method to be a fundamental technique in the research of multicellular spherical clusters of cells for checking the community effect of cells in 3D structures, such as the permeabilities of chemicals and substrates into the cluster, which is complementary to conventional 2D dish cultivation and can contribute to the cell-based screening of drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L796-L799
JournalJapanese Journal of Applied Physics, Part 2: Letters
Issue number29-32
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Aug 11



  • Agarose
  • Cell cultivation
  • Microneedle
  • Photothermal etching
  • Spherical cell cluster
  • Three-dimensional microstructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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