From the 63rd International Symposium and Exhibition of AVS

Living Micromachines

Researchers explain how they have taken the first steps toward integrating MEMS and NEMS devices with living cells to form “biohybrid machines"

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Newswise — Washington, D. C., November 10, 2016— Combining mechanical systems and living cells may still seem futuristic to many, but the potential applications of this pairing are present and growing rapidly.

During the AVS 63rd International Symposium and Exhibition being held November 6-11, 2016, in Nashville, Tennessee, Taher Saif and Brian Williams from the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will explain how they have taken the first steps toward integrating microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) devices with living cells to form “biohybrid machines.”

“These machines have the potential of unprecedented capabilities, as they would carry the footprints of millions of years of evolution,” Saif said.

Saif and Williams will describe a MEMS that they have designed by culturing rat heart muscle cells directly onto a string made of a specially-designed polymer.

“The cells interact with the string, as well as with each other, to beat in synchrony as a single actuator,” Saif said.

The actuator controls the motion of the mechanical system as a whole. In this case, the actuator bends the polymer string creating a wave that extends the down the entire length of the string. This allows the biohybrid MEMS to "swim" through fluids like sperm cells. This is a trait that may one day permit similar microrobots to deliver drugs throughout the body.

Presentation MN+BI-ThM1, "Living Micromachines," by M. Taher Saif and Brian Williams is at 8:00 a.m. CDT, Nov. 10, 2016, in Room 102B

MORE ABOUT THE AVS 63rd INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM & EXHIBITIONThe symposium is being held November 6-11, 2016 , in Nashville, Tennessee

USEFUL LINKSMain symposium website: Program: http://www.avssymposium.orgMedia Center:

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Founded in 1953, AVS is organized into technical divisions and technical groups that encompass a range of established as well as emerging science and technology areas. There are also regional chapters, international chapters and affiliates, and student chapters that promote communication and networking for professionals and students within a geographical region. AVS is comprised of approximately 4,500 members worldwide.

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