Bioenergetics and Mechanical Actuation Analysis with Membrane Transport Experiments for Use in Biomimetic Nastic Structures

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Mechanical Engineering


Nastic structures are synthetic constructs capable of controllable deformation and shape change similar to plant motility, designed to imitate the biological process of nastic movement found in plants. This paper considers the mechanics and bioenergetics of a prototype nastic structure system consisting of an array of cylindrical microhydraulic actuators embedded in a polymeric plate. Non-uniform expansion/contraction of the actuators in the array may yield an overall shape change resulting in structural morphing. Actuator expansion/contraction is achieved through pressure changes produced by active transport across a bilayer membrane. The active transport process relies on ion-channel proteins that pump sucrose and water molecules across a plasma membrane against the pressure gradient. The energy required by this process is supplied by the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate. After reviewing the biochemistry and bioenergetics of the active transport process, the paper presents an analysis of the microhydraulic actuator mechanics predicting the resulting displacement and output energy. Experimental demonstration of fluid transport through a protein transporter follows this discussion. The bilayer membrane is formed from 1-Palmitoyl-2-Oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-[Phospho-L-Serine] (Sodium Salt), 1-Palmitoyl-2-Oleoyl-sn-Glycero- 3-Phosphoethanolamine lipids to support the AtSUT4 H+-sucrose cotransporter.