Microgels—small gels of submicron to micron size—are widely used in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications because of their biocompatibility and/or fast response to external environments. However, the properties of “single” microgels have not been characterized due to limitations in preparation technologies and measurement methods for single microgels with sizes in the multi-micrometer range. The synthesis of multiple shapes of single microgels and their characterization are important for further functionalization and application of gel-based materials. In this review, we explain the recent advancements in microgel fabrication and characterization methods for single microgels. The first topic discussed includes the self-assembly methods for single microgel fabrication using physical phenomena such as phase separation, interfacial wetting and buckling instability. The second topic deals with methods for analyzing the mechanics of single microgels and the differences between their mechanical characteristics and those of bulk gels. The recent progress in the fabrication and characterization of single microgels will bring important insights to the design and functionalization of gel-based materials.
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