In recent years, the use of microfabrication techniques has allowed biomaterials studies which were originally carried out at larger length scales to be miniaturized as so-called “on-chip” experiments. These miniaturized experiments have a range of advantages which have led to an increase in their popularity. A range of biomaterial shapes and compositions are synthesized or manufactured on chip. Moreover, chips are developed to investigate specific aspects of interactions between biomaterials and biological systems. Finally, biomaterials are used in microfabricated devices to replicate the physiological microenvironment in studies using so-called “organ-on-chip,” “tissue-on-chip” or “disease-on-chip” models, which can reduce the use of animal models with their inherent high cost and ethical issues, and due to the possible use of human cells can increase the translation of research from lab to clinic. This review gives an overview of recent developments at the interface between microfabrication and biomaterials science, and indicates potential future directions that the field may take. In particular, a trend toward increased scale and automation is apparent, allowing both industrial production of micron-scale biomaterials and high-throughput screening of the interaction of diverse materials libraries with cells and bioengineered tissues and organs.
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