To create life-like movements, living muscle actuator technologies have borrowed inspiration from biomimetic concepts in developing bioinspired robots. Here, the development of a bioinspired soft robotics system, with integrated self-actuating cardiac muscles on a hierarchically structured scaffold with flexible gold microelectrodes is reported. Inspired by the movement of living organisms, a batoid-fish-shaped substrate is designed and reported, which is composed of two micropatterned hydrogel layers. The first layer is a poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogel substrate, which provides a mechanically stable structure for the robot, followed by a layer of gelatin methacryloyl embedded with carbon nanotubes, which serves as a cell culture substrate, to create the actuation component for the soft body robot. In addition, flexible Au microelectrodes are embedded into the biomimetic scaffold, which not only enhance the mechanical integrity of the device, but also increase its electrical conductivity. After culturing and maturation of cardiomyocytes on the biomimetic scaffold, they show excellent myofiber organization and provide self-actuating motions aligned with the direction of the contractile force of the cells. The Au microelectrodes placed below the cell layer further provide localized electrical stimulation and control of the beating behavior of the bioinspired soft robot.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
S.R.S. and B.M. contributed equally to this work. The authors gratefully acknowledge funding by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC PACIFIC) Contract No. N66001-13-C-2027. The authors also acknowledge funding from the National Institutes of Health (EB012597, AR057837, DE021468, HL099073, R56AI105024, EB012857), the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and Air Force Office of Sponsored Research under award # FA9550-15-1-0273. This work was partially supported by a microgrant from Brigham Research Institute and Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s Office for Research Careers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. S.R.S. would like to recognize and thank Brigham and Women’s Hospital President Betsy Nabel, MD, and the Reny family, for the Stepping Strong Innovator Award through their generous funding. Y.S.Z. acknowledges supports from the National Cancer Institute Pathway to Independence Award (K99CA201603).
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering