Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Xiaobo Yin

Second Advisor

Wei Tan

Third Advisor

Yifu Ding


The stiffness of an extracellular matrix (ECM) can exert great influence on cellular functions such as proliferation, migration and differentiation. Challenges still remain, however, in the fabrication of artificial ECMs with well-controlled stiffness profiles in three dimension (3D). In this thesis, we developed a projection micro-stereolithography system to fabricate 3D structures with quantitative control over stiffness using biocompatible materials. The technique is based on a grayscale printing method, which spatially controls the crosslinking density in the 3D hydrogel structures without influencing their appearance. Mimetic tissue environments in the form of 2D striped patterns and 3D tubes with stiffness gradients were fabricated. Finally, we seeded bovine pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells on these engineered environments, and during the culturing, cells migrated to stiffer regions. This work provides a method for fabricating tissue mimetic environments that can benefit the study of cellular behavior and other biomedical research.