Fabrication and Modeling of Muscle Powered Organic Machines

The Tissue Fabrication and Microbiology Lab is working with the Case Biorobotics Laboratory on the development of completely organic robotics devices, powered by muscle cells. Whether working with massive industrial robots or medical robots capable of performing operations, robotic systems can cause grievous harm if not designed and implemented safely. In order to develop medical robots capable of operation inside the human body, actuators are needed which will operate inside organisms while doing minimal damage to surrounding tissue. The development of such devices could facilitate minimally invasive procedures, targeted drug delivery, and vascular inspection and repair. One possible technique for developing such small-scale actuators is to culture muscle cells on engineered substrates.


Previously created biohybrid robots have used nondegradable, synthetic polymers; however, such devices require additional manufacturing steps in order to micropattern and treat the scaffolds for cellular attachment. By using Electrochemically Aligned Collagen (ELAC) scaffolds, devices can be manufactured without these additional steps. These devices can be seeded with isolated muscle cells and stimulated to produce coordinated contractions, resulting in locomotion.



Webster V., Akkus O, Chiel, H., Quinn, R. 2015 “Modeling Cellular Contraction on Biohybrid Devices Using Thermal Contraction Capabilities of Finite Element Analysis Tools.” Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference, Snowbird, UT, USA.



Webster V., Hawley, E., Akkus O., Chiel, H., Quinn, R. 2015 Fabrication of Electrocompacted Aligned Collagen Morphs for Cardiomyocyte Powered Living Machines. Living Machines, Barcelona, Spain, 2015. submitted.