Nanofibril scaffold assisted MEMS artificial hydrogel neuromasts for enhanced sensitivity flow sensing

Ajay Giri Prakash Kottapalli*, Meghali Bora, Mohsen Asadnia, Jianmin Miao, Subbu S. Venkatraman, Michael Triantafyllou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


We present the development and testing of superficial neuromast-inspired flow sensors that also attain high sensitivity and resolution through a biomimetic hyaulronic acid-based hydrogel cupula dressing. The inspiration comes from the spatially distributed neuromasts of the blind cavefish that live in completely dark undersea caves; the sensors enable the fish to form three-dimensional flow and object maps, enabling them to maneuver efficiently in cluttered environments. A canopy shaped electrospun nanofibril scaffold, inspired by the cupular fibrils, assists the drop-casting process allowing the formation of a prolate spheroid-shaped artificial cupula. Rheological and nanoindentation characterizations showed that the Youngs modulus of the artificial cupula closely matches the biological cupula (10-100 Pa). A comparative experimental study conducted to evaluate the sensitivities of the naked hair cell sensor and the cupula-dressed sensor in sensing steady-state flows demonstrated a sensitivity enhancement by 3.5-5 times due to the presence of hydrogel cupula. The novel strategies of sensor development presented in this report are applicable to the design and fabrication of other biomimetic sensors as well. The developed sensors can be used in the navigation and maneuvering of underwater robots, but can also find applications in biomedical and microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19336
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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