Development of micro electro mechanical devices for the study of mechanosensitive ion channels and mechanical cell properties
The objectives of this doctoral research involve the development of tools, in particular micro-nano devices for the study of mechanical properties of single living cells and for the analyses of mechanosensitive ionic channels (MSCs). BioMEMS (Biological Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) have been devised and used to investigate MSCs and the cell mechanics in a completely innovative way. Living cells in adhesion can be studied in a physiological condition; the mechanical stretch can be controlled and measured; the MSCs activity can be evaluate using different techniques from patch clamp to AFM (atomic force microscope) or fluorescence essays. Silicon BioMEMS have been designed and tested to evaluate morphological modifications of the stretched cells, and hysteretic behavior has been assessed. However, since they are not transparent, the use of this devices has been limited. Also completely transparent devices have been designed and microfabricated. These BioMEMS will allow testing cells and combining measurements of the mechanical properties, the cell’s morphology (with optical systems and atomic force microscopy), and MSCs activity (with patch clamp and/or conductive AFM). In this doctoral research, BioMEMS have been devised and realized, the measurement set-up optimized and a surface treatment protocol developed.