Jordi Cools, who joined the Haesler lab as neural engineer last December, recently published the research he did at imec in the journal Advanced Science. The paper presents self-folding microgrippers that wrap around cells and function as a recording shell for better cell-contact and higher signal quality.
“This is how it works: the microgrippers are first patterned on top of a dissolvable sacrificial layer. When the sacrificial layer is dissolved by the cell culture medium, the intrinsic stress of the bilayer is released and the panels with the embedded electrodes subsequently fold towards the middle, capturing any cell laying on top,” Jordi explains. "Using an ultrathin bilayer, we could make the panels flexible and curve during folding, so that they conformed to the shape of the cell. At the same time the panels are soft enough not to damage the cells. We demonstrated this by culturing primary heart cells on the grippers. The soft shell wrapped tightly around them, and – more importantly – the cells remained viable and functional, maintaining their electrical activity."