Soft Materials Laboratory

The purpose of this project is to construct a voltage controlled artificial excitable cell fabricated from electro-active polymers. Polymers with the ability to change their ionic permeability in response to voltages are used as an ion gate in the design of a biomimetic excitable cell, through which ion species flow to produce distinct activated and resting phases, as foundin the biological cardiac myocyte. The grand vision of this research initiative is to connect the gel-cells into a large array to produce the first engineered excitable medium, an electro-active polymer analogy to heart tissue. Engineered excitable media have numerous potential applications including: 1) a new research approach to help elucidate the relationship between cardiac geometry and arrhythmias, 2) a bio-inspired peristaltic tube pump, and 3) a new class of artificial muscle.

More: Development of an Artificial Cardiac Myocyte Cell Using Electro-active PolymersInvestigation of Polypyrrole Membrane Potassium Sensor for Inclusion in a Biomimetic Artificial Excitable Cell

A provisional patent application was filed for this work with the University of Virginia Patent Foundation in 2010. Please contact them for more information or with any inquiries (

Journal Publication:

C.V. Haden, D.A. Jordan and P.M. Norris, “Deposition of Polypyrrole Onto Bucky Gel for Use in a Biomimetic Artificial Excitable Cell Membrane,”  J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2, 024501,  2011

Conference Publication:

Haden, V.C, Jordan, D.A., Norris, P.M. , “Deposition of Polypyrrole onto a Novel Polymer Electrode for use in a Biomimetic Artificial Excitable Cell Membrane,” Proceedings of the ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, IMECE2010-38755, Vancouver, Canada, November 12-18, 2010.

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