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Design and Fabrication by Thermal Imprint Lithography and Mechanical Characterization of a Ring-Based PDMS Soft Probe for Sensing and Actuating Forces in Biological Systems

1
Center for Bio-Molecular [email protected], Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Via Eugenio Barsanti 14, 73010 Arnesano (LE), Italy
2
Istituto di Nanotecnologia, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, 73100 Lecce, Italy
3
Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Innovazione, Università del Salento—Complesso Ecotekne, edificio “Corpo O”—Via per Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2019, 11(3), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11030424
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 25 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 5 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lithography with Polymer Stamp Techniques)
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Abstract

In this paper, the design, fabrication and mechanical characterization of a novel polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) soft probe for delivering and sensing forces in biological systems is proposed. On the basis of preliminary finite element (FEM) analysis, the design takes advantage of a suitable core geometry, characterized by a variable spring-like ring. The compliance of probes can be finely set in a wide range to measure forces in the micronewton to nanonewton range. In particular, this is accomplished by properly resizing the ring geometry and/or exploiting the mixing ratio-based elastic properties of PDMS. Fabrication by the thermal imprint lithography method allows fast and accurate tuning of ring sizes and tailoring of the contact section to their targets. By only varying geometrical parameters, the stiffness ranges from 1080 mNm−1 to 50 mNm−1, but by changing the base-curing agent proportion of the elastomer from 10:1 to 30:1, the stiffness drops to 37 mNm−1. With these compliances, the proposed device will provide a new experimental tool for investigating force-dependent biological functions in sensory systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: PDMS; thermal imprint lithography; soft probe; force sensor; hair cell; mechanosensing PDMS; thermal imprint lithography; soft probe; force sensor; hair cell; mechanosensing
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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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Dattoma, T.; Qualtieri, A.; Epifani, G.; De Vittorio, M.; Rizzi, F. Design and Fabrication by Thermal Imprint Lithography and Mechanical Characterization of a Ring-Based PDMS Soft Probe for Sensing and Actuating Forces in Biological Systems. Polymers 2019, 11, 424.

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