Skeletal muscles are considered to date the best existing actuator in nature thanks to their hierarchical multiscale fibrous structure capable to enhance their strength and contractile performances. In recent years, driven by the growing of the soft robotics and tissue-engineering research field, many biomimetic soft actuators and scaffolds were designed by taking inspiration from the biological skeletal muscle. In this work we used the electrospinning technique to develop a hierarchically arranged nanofibrous structure resembling the morphology and passive biomechanical properties of skeletal muscles. To mimic the passive properties of muscle, a low-modulus polyurethane was used. Several electrospun structures (mats, bundles, and a muscle-like assembly) were produced with different internal 3D arrangements of the nanofibers. A thermal characterization through thermogravimetric and differential scanning calorimetry analysis investigated the physico-chemical properties of the material. The multiscale morphological similarities with the biological counterpart were verified by means of scanning electron microscopy investigation. The tensile tests on the different electrospun samples revealed that the muscle-like assembly presented slightly higher strength and stiffness compared to the skeletal muscle ones. Moreover, mathematical models of the mechanical behavior of the nanofibrous structures were successfully developed, allowing to better investigate the relationships between structure and mechanics of the samples. The promising results suggest the suitability of this hierarchical electrospun nanofibrous structure for applications in regenerative medicine and, if combined with active materials, in soft actuators for robotic.

Biomimetic Hierarchically Arranged Nanofibrous Structures Resembling the Architecture and the Passive Mechanical Properties of Skeletal Muscles: A Step Forward Toward Artificial Muscle

Gotti C.;Sensini A.;Fornaia G.;Gualandi C.;Zucchelli A.
;
Focarete M. L.
2020

Abstract

Skeletal muscles are considered to date the best existing actuator in nature thanks to their hierarchical multiscale fibrous structure capable to enhance their strength and contractile performances. In recent years, driven by the growing of the soft robotics and tissue-engineering research field, many biomimetic soft actuators and scaffolds were designed by taking inspiration from the biological skeletal muscle. In this work we used the electrospinning technique to develop a hierarchically arranged nanofibrous structure resembling the morphology and passive biomechanical properties of skeletal muscles. To mimic the passive properties of muscle, a low-modulus polyurethane was used. Several electrospun structures (mats, bundles, and a muscle-like assembly) were produced with different internal 3D arrangements of the nanofibers. A thermal characterization through thermogravimetric and differential scanning calorimetry analysis investigated the physico-chemical properties of the material. The multiscale morphological similarities with the biological counterpart were verified by means of scanning electron microscopy investigation. The tensile tests on the different electrospun samples revealed that the muscle-like assembly presented slightly higher strength and stiffness compared to the skeletal muscle ones. Moreover, mathematical models of the mechanical behavior of the nanofibrous structures were successfully developed, allowing to better investigate the relationships between structure and mechanics of the samples. The promising results suggest the suitability of this hierarchical electrospun nanofibrous structure for applications in regenerative medicine and, if combined with active materials, in soft actuators for robotic.
Gotti C.; Sensini A.; Fornaia G.; Gualandi C.; Zucchelli A.; Focarete M.L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/775385
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