Prior Works

Living Biological Machines @ DBG

Synthetic Jelly Fish

Learning from the Jellyfish: Squishy pumps for biomedical and engineering applications

Most people know jellyfish as a painful nuisance, a beautiful aquarium exhibit or–less commonly–in the form of a marinated snack. We have taken yet another perspective on this simple invertebrate; for us, it constitutes nature’s prototype of a flexible, muscle-powered pump that could be used for medical applications and soft robotics. Graduate student Janna Nawroth worked with John Dabiri, professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at Caltech, and Kit Parker, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard, to elucidate how the jellyfish body creates flows and eddies useful for pumping, propulsion, and feeding. In this video, we explains how and why we developed a technology that turns silicone rubber and lab-grown muscle tissue into jellyfish-like fluid pumps and swimmers–advancing the design of muscular pumps for biomedical applications.

Nawroth JC, Lee H, Feinberg AW, Ripplinger CM, McCain ML, Grosberg A, Dabiri JO, Parker KK. A tissue-engineered jellyfish with biomimetic propulsion. Nat Biotechnol. 2012;30;792-797.



Muscular Thin Film

Muscular thin films for building actuators and powering devices

We demonstrate the assembly of biohybrid materials from engineered tissues and synthetic polymer thin films. The constructs were built by culturing neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes on polydimethylsiloxane thin films micropatterned with extracellular matrix proteins to promote spatially ordered, two-dimensional myogenesis. The constructs, termed muscular thin films, adopted functional, three-dimensional conformations when released from a thermally sensitive polymer substrate and were designed to perform biomimetic tasks by varying tissue architecture, thin-film shape, and electrical-pacing protocol. These centimeter-scale constructs perform functions as diverse as gripping, pumping, walking, and swimming with fine spatial and temporal control and generating specific forces as high as 4 millinewtons per square millimeter.

Feinberg AW, Feigel A, Shevkoplyas SS, Sheehy S, Whitesides GM, Parker KK. Muscular thin films for building actuators and powering devices. Science. 2007;317:1366-1370.