We present a method based on a microfluidic chip that produces continuous jetting of alginate microfiber in the atmosphere to facilitate its collection and assembly. Through the analysis of the factors influencing the microfiber jetting, the principle and some microfluidic chip design criteria are discussed. A special nozzle is designed near the chip outlet, and deionized water is introduced into the microchannel through the nozzle to increase the flux and thus to prevent drop formation around the outlet which impedes the continuous jetting of microfiber. The experiments have reported the effectiveness of the proposed structure and shown that the introduction of sheath flow promotes the stability of the flow field in the microchannel and does not affect the morphology of microfiber. Simulations of velocity and pressure distribution in the microchannel are also conducted. Further, the jetting microfibers are collected and assembled into various 3D complex fiber-based macroscopic structures through patterning or reeling. Since the proposed structure is rather simple and can be easily integrated into other complex structures without adding more soft-lithographical steps, microfibers with various morphology and function can be synthesized and collected in a single chip, which can be applied to various fields, such as tissue engineering, biotechnology, and drug discovery.
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