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Controlled packing and single-droplet resolution of 3D-printed functional synthetic tissues

Cite this dataset

Alcinesio, Alessandro et al. (2020). Controlled packing and single-droplet resolution of 3D-printed functional synthetic tissues [Dataset]. Dryad.


3D-printing networks of droplets connected by interface bilayers is a powerful platform to build synthetic tissues, in which functionality relies on precisely ordered structures. However, the structural precision and consistency in assembling these structures is currently limited, which restricts intricate designs and the complexity of functions performed by synthetic tissues. Here, we report that the equilibrium contact angle (θDIB) between a pair of droplets is a key parameter that dictates the tessellation and precise positioning of hundreds of picolitre droplets within 3D-printed, multi-layer networks. When θDIB approximates the geometrically-derived critical angle (θc) of 35.3º, the resulting networks of droplets arrange in regular hexagonally close-packed (hcp) lattices with the least fraction of defects. With this improved control over droplet packing, we can 3D-print functional synthetic tissues with single-droplet-wide conductive pathways. Our new insights into 3D droplet packing permit the fabrication of complex synthetic tissues, where precisely positioned compartments perform coordinated tasks.

Usage notes

The files are labelled in the format:



"SILXX_POPCYY" indicates the volume fraction of silicone oil (φSIL) and molar fraction of POPC (xPOPC) at which the network was printed (e.g. "SIL55_POPC13" corresponds to φSIL = 0.55 and xPOPC = 0.13)

"NetNumber" indicates the repeat number of the specific printed network (e.g. "net3" indicates the 3rd network printed at a specific condition)

"Process" indicates the type of processing visualised in the image. This can be:

  • " " : Raw confocal image
  • "Network": Segmented image showing automatic identification of the lipid bilayers in droplet networks
  • "Network_Corrected": Manually corrected image after automatic segmentation
  • "LinkClasses": Segmented image showing classification of lipid bilayers and lipid monolayers
  • "Overlay": Overlay of the confocal image and corresponding packing classification based on Delaunay triangulation.