New stretchable electrodes created to study stresses on cardiac cells

Jan 22, 2009 by Emil Venere
Babak Ziaie, a Purdue associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, demonstrates a new "stretchable" electrode created in research with Stanford University to study how cardiac muscle cells, neurons and other cells react to mechanical stresses from heart attacks, traumatic brain injuries and other diseases. The devices are made by injecting a liquid alloy made of indium and gallium into thin microchannels between two sheets of a plastic polymer. Purdue News Service photo/Andrew Hancock

Engineers at Purdue and Stanford universities have created stretchable electrodes to study how cardiac muscle cells, neurons and other cells react to mechanical stresses from heart attacks, traumatic brain injuries and other diseases.

The devices are made by injecting a liquid alloy made of indium and gallium into thin microchannels between two sheets of a plastic polymer, said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Cell cultures are grown on top of the new "stretchable cell culture platform."

"We designed a simple and cost-effective process for fabricating these stretchable platforms," said Ziaie, who is working with Beth L. Pruitt, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, along with graduate students and other researchers at both universities. "What's special about this technology is that it allows you to electrically stimulate or monitor the cell population using electrodes while you are applying stress to the cells."

Stretching the cell cultures causes mechanical stresses like those exerted on tissues during heart attacks and traumatic brain injuries. The researchers have grown mice cardiac muscle cells on the platform and may grow cell cultures of neurons in future work. Cultures of stem cells also could be tested using the system to determine how mechanical stresses prompt the cells to differentiate into specific types of tissues, Ziaie said.

"You cannot stretch solid metal beyond a few percent because it will break, but we've been able to stretch these liquid platforms more than 40 percent of their original size," Ziaie said.

Findings are detailed in a paper being presented Monday (Jan. 26) during the 22nd IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems. The conference, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, will be in Sorrento, Italy.

"We demonstrated that the platform is biocompatible with human aortic muscle cells and mice heart cells," Ziaie said. "The cells adhered well to the polymer surface during mechanical strain and survived near and on the electrodes after two days of incubation. The platform also maintained its electrical capabilities after being stretched 100 times."

Purdue researchers designed and fabricated the platform at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park. Stanford researchers grew cardiac muscle cell cultures on the device and tested the platform.

"We now hold the record for how much you can stretch an electrical conductor," Ziaie said.

Source: Purdue University

Explore further: Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Growing a business, from the lab

Feb 03, 2014

In the early 1990s, MIT researcher Shuguang Zhang, then an MIT postdoc, stumbled upon peptides that could self-assemble into nanostructures, creating three-dimensional environments for cell culturing. It ...

Research provides key insight into how cells fuse

Mar 07, 2013

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have established a high-efficiency cell-cell fusion system, providing a new model to study how fusion works. The scientists showed that fusion between two cells is not equal and ...

NASA preps for space-based stem cell research

Dec 09, 2013

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) are enabling research aboard the International Space Station that could lead to new stem cell-based therapies for medical conditions faced on Earth and in ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackers of Oman news agency target Bouteflika

Hackers on Sunday targeted the website of Oman's official news agency, singling out and mocking Algeria's newly re-elected president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a handicapped "dictator".

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.