June 14

Researchers scale up tiny actuator inspired by muscle

first_imgPublished: Nov. 12, 2020 • By Oksana Schuppan Researchers at CU Boulder are collaborating to develop a new kind of biocompatible actuator that contracts and relaxes in only one dimension, like muscles. Their research may one day enable soft machines to fully integrate with our bodies to deliver drugs, target tumors, or repair aging or dysfunctional tissue.Assistant Professor Carson Bruns (left) and Professor Franck Vernerey (right).Professor Franck Vernerey of the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering and Assistant Professor Carson Bruns of the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering and ATLAS Institute received $477,000 from the National Science Foundation to begin this three-year project in January 2021.“We are investigating an emerging class of materials known as slide ring polymers that resemble beads on a string,” said Vernerey. “When the network is subjected to a controlled stimulus, the bead-like molecules can slide around, which allows for a new way to actuate the material.”Naturally occurring molecular machines in the body perform vital cell functions, such as gene replication, protein synthesis or transportation of intracellular cargo. Artificial molecular machines—inspired by those in nature—were recognized by the 2016 Nobel Prize, awarded to early pioneers in this area. Now, Bruns and Vernerey aim to scale up these tiny machines from nanoscale to macroscale using networks.Instead of one molecule, a network incorporates numerous molecules, linked and working together, as occurs naturally in muscle. The process of starting small and scaling up allows the manmade material to copy how nature organizes molecular machines. To ensure the best results, Vernerey will also create a multiscale model to generate predictions that will help determine exactly how to tweak the molecular structure for the most effective scaling.“The part that Franck’s group is doing is the first of its kind for these materials,” said Bruns. “It keeps my group from having to go into the lab and make hundreds of networked molecular machines until we find the property that we’re most interested in.”Likewise, Vernerey said there would be no models without Bruns. “We make for a very cool integration,” said Vernerey.A schematic showing a slide ring network relaxing (left) and contracting (right). The bead-like molecules slide around, allowing for a new way to actuate the material.Hydrogels currently are the main available actuator based on molecular interactions, which change shape based on temperature, pH or pulses of electricity. However, these actuators are limited in that they cannot change shape in only one dimension. When a soft material experiences a change in volume instead of just length, its movements are slower, harder to control and a less efficient use of energy.“Imagine the actuator is a sponge soaked in water, and it takes a long time for the water to leave,” said Vernerey. “The larger the actuator, the longer you have to push out. This means when you want to scale it up, this approach becomes unrealistically slow. The only way to make things fast is to contract without volume change.”Natural muscle, the inspiration for this project, does this quickly in the body. Each molecular machine pulls on polymer ropes in a microscopic tug-of-war, and the movements collectively result in the muscle shortening to contract and fully extending to relax.“Another consideration is that our materials can be made to be self-healing, and they are biodegradable, both properties of muscle,” said Bruns.  Bruns said their materials are made of non-toxic, food-grade products. This is significant, because most other actuators—especially those that rely on electricity—are not safe to use inside the body.“While we hope there will be applications, we are equally interested in better understanding these systems,” said Bruns. To this end, Bruns and Vernerey are also developing interactive lessons in this area for high-school and undergraduate students.“If you tell a student in high school, I’m just building a polymer, they might not be that excited,” said Vernerey. “But this project has great applications which will help them to be excited about the physics.”Whether their findings help in tissue engineering or in developing soft micro-robots to mimic and guide cells, among other applications, Bruns and Vernerey said they are excited to be on the frontier of nanotechnology, gaining a better understanding of molecular machines and networks.  Categories:Mechanics of MaterialsMicro/NanoscaleTags:Carson BrunsFranck Vernerey Share Share via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via LinkedInlast_img read more

May 7

One day after becoming Jersey City BOE pres., Thomas opens new…

first_imgElectionsJersey City One day after becoming Jersey City BOE pres., Thomas opens new ELEC account Bayonne By John Heinis – January 23, 2018 4:32 pm 0 One day after being named the president of the Jersey City Board of Education, Sudhan Thomas opened a new account with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, prompting one critic to question his political ambitions.By John Heinis/Hudson County ViewAccording to an online filing with NJ ELEC on January 10th, Thomas opened an account that lists “council or municipal office” under office sought.While the election date is listed in the filing is June 6th, 2017, 8 months after he was elected to the BOE and 41 months before the Jersey City 2021 municipal elections, at least one person is convinced his intentions are clear.“ … We saw Mussab Ali, the first Muslim and the youngest member ever elected to the board of education. We saw the historic elections of Sudhan Thomas and Lorenzo Richardson as president and vice president,” Yousef Saleh, who unsuccessfully ran for BOE in November, said at Thursday’s meeting.“But I am dismayed to stand before you tonight and say that Sudhan Thomas, I respect you and I love you, but you filed to run for city council and we don’t need a part-time president. We need a president who is engaged.”Saleh, who ran as an independent, also took exception to the fact that Thomas opened the account less than 24 hours after he was elected board president on January 9th.“We already have a part-time president in Washington, we need you engaged,” he reiterated.Thomas denied that he is mulling a council run for 2021 and that he hasn’t thought about if he will seek re-election to the board next year, further stating the account was opened to pay for expenses from his run for the Jersey City Democratic Organization last June.He explained that he did a mailer for Column E, all the candidates on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line, and that he therefore owed $2,700 to Royal Printing.Previous filings for his BOE account show that Royal Printing was his printer of choice for political literature.“My bank was closed so I had to open a new bank account to make a payment to Royal Printing,” he added.This isn’t the first time the trustee, who was endorsed by the Jersey City Education Association in 2016, has faced scrutiny over his campaign filings.Late last summer, The Jersey Journal reported that two law firms filed lawsuits alleging that Thomas owed them $25,000 in unpaid legal bills.On the October 6th edition of Hudson County Review Live, Thomas denied having any issues with his ELEC filings, also shooting down rumblings he had been considering a council run for November, calling that notion “fake news.” RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR TAGSjersey city board of educationjersey city councilsudhan thomasyousef saleh SHARE Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter CarePoint Health reaches deal for Cigna Health Insurance to join their network Community Facebook Twitter Bayonne Jersey City high school teacher suspended after rant calling George Floyd ‘a f***ing criminal’ Previous articleProsecutor: Kearny BOE bookkeeper stole $190k between 2011 and 2017Next articleDeveloper to hold public hearing on controversial Liberty State Park marina plan John Heinis Hudson County commissioners discuss exiting ICE deal, advocates call for no new jail contractslast_img read more