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Issue 10, 2011
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Hair cell inspired mechanotransduction with a gel-supported, artificial lipid membrane

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Abstract

A gel-supported lipid bilayer formed at the base of an artificial hair is used as the transduction element in an artificial, membrane-based hair cell sensor inspired by the structure and function of mammalian hair cells. This paper describes the initial fabrication and characterization of a bioderived, soft-material alternative to previous artificial hair cells that used the transduction properties of synthetic materials for flow and touch sensing. Under an applied air flow, the artificial hair structure vibrates, triggering a picoamp-level electrical current across the lipid bilayer. Experimental analysis of this mechanoelectrical transduction process supports the hypothesis that the current is produced by a time-varying change in the capacitance of the membrane caused by the vibration of the hair. Specifically, frequency analysis of both the motion of the hair and the measured current show that both phenomena occur at similar frequencies (0.1–1.0 kHz), which suggests that changes in capacitance occur as a result of membrane bending during excitation. In this paper, the bilayer-based hair cell sensor is experimentally characterized to understand the effects of transmembrane potential, the applied air flow, and the dimensions of the hair.

Graphical abstract: Hair cell inspired mechanotransduction with a gel-supported, artificial lipid membrane

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Publication details

The article was received on 24 Jan 2011, accepted on 21 Mar 2011 and first published on 18 Apr 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05120B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2011,7, 4644-4653
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    Hair cell inspired mechanotransduction with a gel-supported, artificial lipid membrane

    S. A. Sarles, J. D. W. Madden and D. J. Leo, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 4644
    DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05120B

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