Gel integration for microfluidic applications

Lab Chip. 2016 May 21;16(10):1757-76. doi: 10.1039/c6lc00247a. Epub 2016 Apr 18.


Molecular diffusive membranes or materials are important for biological applications in microfluidic systems. Hydrogels are typical materials that offer several advantages, such as free diffusion for small molecules, biocompatibility with most cells, temperature sensitivity, relatively low cost, and ease of production. With the development of microfluidic applications, hydrogels can be integrated into microfluidic systems by soft lithography, flow-solid processes or UV cure methods. Due to their special properties, hydrogels are widely used as fluid control modules, biochemical reaction modules or biological application modules in different applications. Although hydrogels have been used in microfluidic systems for more than ten years, many hydrogels' properties and integrated techniques have not been carefully elaborated. Here, we systematically review the physical properties of hydrogels, general methods for gel-microfluidics integration and applications of this field. Advanced topics and the outlook of hydrogel fabrication and applications are also discussed. We hope this review can help researchers choose suitable methods for their applications using hydrogels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemotaxis
  • Diffusion
  • Drug Resistance
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Equipment Design / instrumentation
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Microfluidics / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidics / methods*
  • Polymerization
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Viscosity


  • Hydrogels