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Sensors 2017, 17(8), 1728;

Cupula-Inspired Hyaluronic Acid-Based Hydrogel Encapsulation to Form Biomimetic MEMS Flow Sensors

Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM) IRG, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), 1 Create Way, Create Tower, Singapore 138602, Singapore
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore
Department of Engineering, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 May 2017 / Revised: 13 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 28 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
Full-Text   |   PDF [9245 KB, uploaded 28 July 2017]   |  


Blind cavefishes are known to detect objects through hydrodynamic vision enabled by arrays of biological flow sensors called neuromasts. This work demonstrates the development of a MEMS artificial neuromast sensor that features a 3D polymer hair cell that extends into the ambient flow. The hair cell is monolithically fabricated at the center of a 2 μm thick silicon membrane that is photo-patterned with a full-bridge bias circuit. Ambient flow variations exert a drag force on the hair cell, which causes a displacement of the sensing membrane. This in turn leads to the resistance imbalance in the bridge circuit generating a voltage output. Inspired by the biological neuromast, a biomimetic synthetic hydrogel cupula is incorporated on the hair cell. The morphology, swelling behavior, porosity and mechanical properties of the hyaluronic acid hydrogel are characterized through rheology and nanoindentation techniques. The sensitivity enhancement in the sensor output due to the material and mechanical contributions of the micro-porous hydrogel cupula is investigated through experiments. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomimetic sensors; hydrogels; microelectromechanical systems; flow sensing biomimetic sensors; hydrogels; microelectromechanical systems; flow sensing

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kottapalli, A.G.P.; Bora, M.; Kanhere, E.; Asadnia, M.; Miao, J.; Triantafyllou, M.S. Cupula-Inspired Hyaluronic Acid-Based Hydrogel Encapsulation to Form Biomimetic MEMS Flow Sensors. Sensors 2017, 17, 1728.

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