Bioprinting the future using light: A review on photocrosslinking reactions, photoreactive groups, and photoinitiators

Kamil Elkhoury, Julio Zuazola, Sanjairaj Vijayavenkataraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Light-based bioprinting is a type of additive manufacturing technologies that uses light to control the formation of biomaterials, tissues, and organs. It has the potential to revolutionize the adopted approach in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine by allowing the creation of functional tissues and organs with high precision and control. The main chemical components of light-based bioprinting are activated polymers and photoinitiators. The general photocrosslinking mechanisms of biomaterials are described, along with the selection of polymers, functional group modifications, and photoinitiators. For activated polymers, acrylate polymers are ubiquitous but are made of cytotoxic reagents. A milder option that exists is based on norbornyl groups which are biocompatible and can be used in self-polymerization or with thiol reagents for more precision. Polyethylene-glycol and gelatin activated with both methods can have high cell viability rates. Photoinitiators can be divided into types I and II. The best performances for type I photoinitiators are produced under ultraviolet light. Most alternatives for visible-light-driven photoinitiators were of type II, and changing the co-initiator along the main reagent can fine-tune the process. This field is still underexplored and a vast room for improvements still exist, which can open the way for cheaper complexes to be developed. The progress, advantages, and shortcomings of light-based bioprinting are highlighted in this review, with special emphasis on developments and future trends of activated polymers and photoinitiators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalSLAS Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Activated polymers
  • Biomaterials
  • Light-based bioprinting
  • Photocrosslinking
  • Photoinitiators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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