We present a methodology for building biologically inspired, soft microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. Our strategy combines several advanced techniques including programmable colloidal self-assembly, light-harvesting with plasmonic nanotransducers, and in situ polymerization of compliant hydrogel mechanisms. We synthesize optomechanical microactuators using a template-assisted microfluidic approach in which gold nanorods coated with thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylmethacrylamide) (pNIPMAM) polymer function as nanoscale building blocks. The resulting microactuators exhibit mechanical properties (4.8 ± 2.1 kPa stiffness) and performance metrics (relative stroke up to 0.3 and stress up to 10 kPa) that are comparable to that of bioengineered muscular constructs. Near-infrared (NIR) laser illumination provides effective spatiotemporal control over actuation (sub-micron spatial resolution at millisecond temporal resolution). Spatially modulated hydrogel photolithography guided by an experimentally validated finite element-based design methodology allows construction of compliant poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) mechanisms around the microactuators. We demonstrate the versatility of our approach by manufacturing a diverse array of microdevices including lever arms, continuum microrobots, and dexterous microgrippers. We present a microscale compression device that is developed for mechanical testing of three-dimensional biological samples such as spheroids under physiological conditions.
The publications shown here are the articles indexed by PubMed, not the complete list of the lab's publications.
Congrats to David and team on their recent publication in Nature Communications! Here, they utilized antigen presenting cell-mimetic scaffolds to tune CAR T-cell product functionality by controlling the precise level of stimulation during T-cell activation to accommodate individual differences in the donor cells. Check out the publication here: Enhancing CAR-T cell functionality in a patient-specific manner