Multi-layered polymer cantilever integrated with full-bridge strain sensor to enhance force sensitivity in cardiac contractility measurement†
In this study, we developed a multi-layered functional cantilever for real-time force measurement of cardiomyocytes in cell culture media. The functional cantilever with a full-bridge circuit configuration was composed of one polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and two polyimide (PI) layers, forming two resistive sensors on each upper side of the two PI layers. The PI layers were chemically bonded using an oxygen plasma treatment, with a thin composite layer consisting of Cr/SiO2/PDMS. These greatly improved the force sensitivity and the long-term reliability of the integrated strain sensor operating in liquids. The nanogrooved PDMS top layer bonded on the upper PI layer was employed to further improve the growth of cardiomyocytes on the functional cantilever. The difference in resistance changes and response characteristics was confirmed by evaluating the characteristics of the multi-layered polymer cantilevers with half-bridge and full-bridge circuit configurations. We also employed the cantilever devices to measure the contraction force of cardiomyocytes for 16 days and side effects in real time in human-induced pluripotent stem cells treated with the cardiovascular drug verapamil. The sensor-integrated cantilever devices are expected to be utilized as a novel biomedical sensor for evaluating the mechanobiology of cardiomyocytes, as well as in drug screening tests.