Chemphyschem 2018 08 13;19(16):2113-2118. Epub 2018 Feb 13.
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria St., Toronto, ON, M5B 2K3, Canada.
Electrospraying is a technique used to generate microparticles in a high throughput manner. For biomedical applications, a biocompatible electrosprayed material is often desirable. Using polymers, such as alginate hydrogels, makes it possible to create biocompatible and biodegradable microparticles that can be used for cell encapsulation, to be employed as drug carriers, and for use in 3D cell culturing. Evidence in the literature suggests that the morphology of the biocompatible microparticles is relevant in controlling the dynamics of the microparticles in drug delivery and 3D cell culturing applications. Yet, most electrospray-based techniques only form spherical microparticles, and there is currently no widely adopted technique for producing nonspherical microparticles at a high throughput. Here, we demonstrate the generation of nonspherical biocompatible alginate microparticles by electrospraying, and control the shape of the microparticles by varying experimental parameters such as chemical concentration and the distance between the electrospray tip and the particle-solidification bath. Importantly, we show that these changes to the experimental setup enable the synthesis of different shaped particles, and the systematic change in parameters, such as chemical concentration, result in monotonic changes to the particle aspect ratio. We expect that these results will find utility in many biomedical applications that require biocompatible microparticles of specific shapes.