M.J. Roberts, N. Bhatt, C.M. Voge, E.R. Meshot, J.P. Stegemann, A.J. Hart. Self-assembly of suspended collagen films and their viability as cell culture substrates. Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2013, 1 (37), 4711 – 4718. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C3TB20800A]
We present the fabrication and mechanical properties of thin collagen networks self-assembled in a suspended configuration over micropost arrays. These collagen “canopies” were formed on arrays of microposts made of PDMS, silicon, and vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (CNT). We reversibly loaded the canopy to an in-plane stress of 32 MPa. We found that human dermal fibroblasts (HDFb) proliferate on the canopy substrates for up to 7 days. This versatile fabrication method for suspended extracellular matrix (ECM) films may enable the development of new assays to probe cell–ECM interactions, along with integration of microelectronic probes.