4D Printing of a Bioinspired Microneedle Array with Backward-Facing Barbs for Enhanced Tissue Adhesion

Howon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Microneedle (MN), a miniaturized needle with a length-scale of hundreds of micrometers, has received a great deal of attention because of its minimally invasive, pain-free, and easy-to-use nature. However, a major challenge for controlled long-term drug delivery or biosensing using MN is its low tissue adhesion. Although microscopic structures with high tissue adhesion are found from living creatures in nature (e.g., microhooks of parasites, barbed stingers of honeybees, quills of porcupines), creating MNs with such complex microscopic features is still challenging with traditional fabrication methods. Here, a MN with bioinspired backward-facing curved barbs for enhanced tissue adhesion, manufactured by a digital light processing 3D printing technique, is presented. Backward-facing barbs on a MN are created by desolvation-induced deformation utilizing cross-linking density gradient in a photocurable polymer. Barb thickness and bending curvature are controlled by printing parameters and material composition. It is demonstrated that tissue adhesion of a backward-facing barbed MN is 18 times stronger than that of barbless MN. Also demonstrated is sustained drug release with barbed MNs in tissue. Improved tissue adhesion of the bioinspired MN allows for more stable and robust performance for drug delivery, biofluid collection, and biosensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1909197
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


  • 4D printing
  • bioinspired microneedles
  • drug delivery
  • projection microstereolithography
  • tissue adhesion

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