High-throughput screening of ion channels is now possible with the advent of the planar patch clamp system. This system drastically increases the number of ion channels that can be studied, as multiple ion channel experiments can now be conducted in parallel. However, due to tedious, usually pressure-driven mechanotransduction techniques, there has been a slow integration of this technology into the field of mechanosensitive ion channels. By implementing a piezoelectric quartz substrate into a planar patch clamp system, we show that the patch clamp substrate itself can be used to mechanically actuate ion channels. The piezoelectric substrate transduces an external, applied electric field into a mechanical tension, so precise actuation of the membrane can be accomplished. By applying this electric field only to the outer edges of the substrate, no ulterior electric field is created in the vicinity of the membrane during actuation. Further, with resonant frequencies ranging from 1 kHz to 200 MHz, quartz substrates can be used to apply a wide range of time-varying tensions to cell membranes. This will allow for new and instructive investigations into the dynamic mechanotransductive properties of ion channels.
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