Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2008 105 8850-8854.

Multiphoton fabrication of chemically responsive protein hydrogels for microactuation

B. Kaehr and J. B. Shear

We report a method for creating stimuli-responsive biomaterials in which scanning nonlinear excitation is used to photocrosslink proteins at submicrometer 3D coordinates. Proteins with differing hydration properties can be combined to achieve tunable volume changes that are rapid and reversible in response to changes in chemical environment. Protein matrices having arbitrary 3D topographies and definable density gradients over micrometer dimensions provide the ability to effect rapid (<1 sec) and precise mechanical manipulations by means of changes in hydrogel size and shape, and applicability of these materials to cell biology is shown through the fabrication of responsive bacterial cages.