Cardiac muscle-cell based actuator and self-stabilizing biorobot- PART 1

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Biological machines often referred to as biorobots, are living cell- or tissue-based devices that are powered solely by the contractile activity of living components. Due to their inherent advantages, biorobots are gaining interest as alternatives to traditional fully artificial robots. Various studies have focused on harnessing the power of biological actuators, but only recently studies have quantitatively characterized the performance of biorobots and studied their geometry to enhance functionality and efficiency. Here, we demonstrate the development of a self-stabilizing swimming biorobot that can maintain its pitch, depth, and roll without external intervention. The design and fabrication of the PDMS scaffold for the biological actuator and biorobot followed by the functionalization with fibronectin is described in this first part. In the second part of this two-part article, we detail the incorporation of cardiomyocytes and characterize the biological actuator and biorobot function. Both incorporate a base and tail (cantilever) which produce fin-based propulsion. The tail is constructed with soft lithography techniques using PDMS and laser engraving. After incorporating the tail with the device base, it is functionalized with a cell adhesive protein and seeded confluently with cardiomyocytes. The base of the biological actuator consists of a solid PDMS block with a central glass bead (acts as a weight). The base of the biorobot consists of two composite PDMS materials, Ni-PDMS and microballoon-PDMS (MB-PDMS). The nickel powder (in Ni-PDMS) allows magnetic control of the biorobot during cells seeding and stability during locomotion. Microballoons (in MB-PDMS) decrease the density of MB-PDMS, and enable the biorobot to float and swim steadily. The use of these two materials with different mass densities, enabled precise control over the weight distribution to ensure a positive restoration force at any angle of the biorobot. This technique produces a magnetically controlled self-stabilizing swimming biorobot.

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Journal of Visualized Experiments

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