ELECTROTHERMAL SOFT MANIPULATOR ENABLING SAFE TRANSPORT AND HANDLING OF THIN CELL/TISSUE SHEETS AND BIOELECTRONIC DEVICES
Byoung Soo Kim1 *, Min Ku Kim2 *, Younghak Cho3 , Eman E. Hamed4 , Martha U. Gillette4,5, Hyeongyun Cha6,7, Nenad Miljkovic6,7,8,9, Vinay K. Aakalu10, Kai Kang10, Kyung-No Son10, Kyle M. Schachtschneider11,12,13, Lawrence B. Schook11,12, Chenfei Hu9 , Gabriel Popescu9 , Yeonsoo Park2 , William C. Ballance1 , Seunggun Yu14, Sung Gap Im3 , Jonghwi Lee15†, Chi Hwan Lee2,16†, Hyunjoon Kong1,5,17†
Science Advances 6 (42) 2020
“Living” cell sheets or bioelectronic chips have great potentials to improve the quality of diagnostics and therapies. However, handling these thin and delicate materials remains a grand challenge because the external force applied for gripping and releasing can easily deform or damage the materials. This study presents a soft manipulator that can manipulate and transport cell/tissue sheets and ultrathin wearable biosensing devices seamlessly by recapitulating how a cephalopod’s suction cup works. The soft manipulator consists of an ultrafast thermo-responsive, microchanneled hydrogel layer with tissue-like softness and an electric heater layer. The electric current to the manipulator drives microchannels of the gel to shrink/expand and results in a pressure change through the microchannels. The manipulator can lift/detach an object within 10 s and can be used repeatedly over 50 times. This soft manipulator would be highly useful for safe and reliable assembly and implantation of therapeutic cell/tissue sheets and biosensing devices.