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Proceedings Paper

Fabricating neuromast-inspired gel structures for membrane-based hair cell sensing
Author(s): Nima J. Tamaddoni; Christopher P. Stephens; S. Andy Sarles
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Paper Abstract

Recent research has shown that a new class of mechanical sensor, assembled from biomolecules and which features an artificial cell membrane as the sensing element, can be used to mimic basic hair cell mechanotransduction in vertebrates. The work presented in this paper is motivated by the need to increase sensor performance and stability by refining the methods used to fabricate and connect lipid-encapsulated hydrogels. Inspired by superficial neuromasts found on fish, three hydrogel materials are compared for their ability to be readily shaped into neuromast-inspired geometries and enable lipid bilayer formation using self-assembly at an oil/water interface. Agarose, polyethylene glycol (PEG, 6kg/mole), and hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) gel materials are compared. The results of this initial study determined that UV-curable gel materials such as PEG and HEMA enable more accurate shaping of the gel-needed for developing a sensor that uses a gel material both for mechanical support and membrane formation-compared to agarose. However, the lower hydrophobicity of agarose and PEG materials provide a more fluid, water-like environment for membrane formation-unlike HEMA. In working toward a neuromast-inspired design, a final experiment demonstrates that a bilayer can also be formed directly between two lipid-covered PEG surfaces. These initial results suggest that candidate gel materials with a low hydrophobicity, high fluidity, and a low modulus can be used to provide membrane support.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 2012
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8339, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012, 833908 (4 April 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.915203
Show Author Affiliations
Nima J. Tamaddoni, The Univ. of Tennessee (United States)
Christopher P. Stephens, The Univ. of Tennessee (United States)
S. Andy Sarles, The Univ. of Tennessee (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8339:
Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012
Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Editor(s)

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