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Publication Detail
Bio-inspired multi-resonant acoustic devices based on electrospun piezoelectric polymeric nanofibres.
Cochlear hair cells are critical for the conversion of acoustic into electrical signals and their dysfunction is a primary cause of acquired hearing impairments, which worsen with aging. Piezoelectric materials can reproduce the acoustic-electrical transduction properties of the cochlea and represent promising candidates for future cochlear prostheses. The majority of piezoelectric hearing devices so far developed are based on thin films, which have not managed to simultaneously provide the desired flexibility, high sensitivity, wide frequency selectivity and biocompatibility. To overcome these issues, we hypothesized that fibrous membranes made up of polymeric piezoelectric biocompatible nanofibers could be employed to mimic the function of the basilar membrane, by selectively vibrating in response to different frequencies of sound and transmitting the resulting electrical impulses to the vestibulocochlear nerve. In this study, poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) piezoelectric nanofibers-based acoustic circular sensors were designed and fabricated using the electrospinning technique. The performance of the sensors was investigated with particular focus on the identification of the resonance frequencies and acoustic-electrical conversion in fibrous membrane with different size and fibre orientation. The voltage output (1-17 mV) varied in the range of low resonance frequency (100-400 Hz) depending on the diameter of the macroscale sensors and alignment of the fibres. The devices developed can be regarded as a proof-of-concept demonstrating the possibility of using piezoelectric fibres to convert acoustic waves into electrical signals, through possible synergistic effects of piezoelectricity and triboelectricity. The study has paved the way for the development of self-powered nanofibrous implantable auditory sensors.
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