Capillary-induced contact guidance

Steven Lenhert, Ane Sesma, Michael Hirtz, Lifeng Chi, Harald Fuchs, Hans Peter Wiesmann, Anne E. Osbourn, Bruno M. Moerschbacher

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Topographical features are known to impose capillary forces on liquid droplets, and this phenomenon is exploited in applications such as printing, coatings, textiles and microfluidics. Surface topographies also influence the behavior of biological cells (i.e., contact guidance), with implications ranging from medicine to agriculture. An accurate physical description of how cells detect and respond to surface topographies is necessary in order to move beyond a purely heuristic approach to optimizing the topographies of biomaterial interfaces. Here, we have used a combination of Langmuir−Blodgett lithography and nanoimprinting to generate a range of synthetic microstructured surfaces with grooves of subcellular dimensions in order to investigate the influence of capillary forces on the biological process of contact guidance. The physical−chemical properties of these surfaces were assessed by measuring the anisotropic spreading of sessile water droplets. Having established the physical properties of each surface, we then investigated the influence of capillary forces on the processes of cellular contact guidance in biological organisms, using mammalian osteoblasts and germinating fungal spores as tester organisms. Our results demonstrate that capillary effects are present in topographical contact guidance and should therefore be considered in any physical model that seeks to predict how cells will respond to a particular surface topography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10216-10223
Number of pages8
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007

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