Towards a new generation of programable 3D printed living biobots with nanoelectronics for sensing and local
ElectroSensBioBots was awarded the BIST Ignite Grant in March 2019.
The development of 3D printing techniques has been crucial to the tissue engineering field, allowing the fabrication of cellular constructs with complex functionalities that are of interest in drug discovery because they mimic human tissues. Such technology has been translated to the soft robotics field, demonstrating the first examples of living actuators. The use of living entities brings several advantages with respect to their synthetic counterparts, such as their capacity to adapt to their immediate environment, present a rapid response to an external stimuli, and self-heal. However, the functionality of the state-of-the-art bio-robots is severely hampered by the lack of integrated intelligent electronic systems. This project will pave the way to a new generation of hybrid robots by combining a 3D bioprinted muscle-based bio-actuator with an integrated high performing flexible graphene-based microelectrode system that allows the local stimulation and simultaneous sensing of biological events. Through this prototype, we will not only be able to demonstrate an on-demand actuation, but we will also acquire a fundamental knowledge underlying physiology. In further stages we plan to systematically study the mechanotransduction mechanisms, acquiring a knowledge over our hybrid system that will permit us not only to obtain a multi-modal actuation device, but also to implement a closed-loop control system to develop the first fully automated living robot up to date.
Multidisciplinarity within ElectroSensBioBots
The present project will foster the collaboration between the Smart nano-bio-devices group from IBEC, leader in the field of bio-hybrid micro- and nanorobots, and the Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices group from ICN2, with expertise in the development of novel graphene-based flexible electronics. From one side, IBEC’s group will provide the know-how in 3D printing and the fundamentals on the biorobot’ design, as well as the training protocols for skeletal muscle cells, all the bioengineering components and performing the corresponding biocompatibility assays. On the other hand, ICN2 will play a key role on the design, fabrication and implementation of a flexible high-throughput graphene-based electrode, able to produce local stimulation for a differential force modulation in the cell construct. Both groups will benefit from the present collaboration, by not only developing a biological actuator and in a second stage a bio-robot with endless possibilities in terms of control and effectiveness, but also by going one step forward on the implementation of flexible electrodes with and enhanced signal transduction as a useful tool to gain a better insight on the cell activity in 3D cellular constructs.
More information about ElectroSensBioBots, including progress report as of January 2020 can be downloaded below.