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4 April 2012 Fabricating neuromast-inspired gel structures for membrane-based hair cell sensing
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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.
© (2012) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Nima J. Tamaddoni, Christopher P. Stephens, and S. Andy Sarles "Fabricating neuromast-inspired gel structures for membrane-based hair cell sensing", Proc. SPIE 8339, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012, 833908 (4 April 2012);

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