Magnetic nanoparticles for ultrafast mechanical control of inner ear hair cells

Jae Hyun Lee, Ji Wook Kim, Michael Levy, Albert Kao, Seung Hyun Noh, Dolores Bozovic, Jinwoo Cheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


We introduce cubic magnetic nanoparticles as an effective tool for precise and ultrafast control of mechanosensitive cells. The temporal resolution of our system is ∼1000 times faster than previously used magnetic switches and is comparable to the current state-of-the-art optogenetic tools. The use of a magnetism-gated switch reported here can address the key challenges of studying mechanotransduction in biological systems. The cube-shaped magnetic nanoparticles are designed to bind to components of cellular membranes and can be controlled with an electromagnet to exert pico-Newtons of mechanical force on the cells. The cubic nanoparticles can thus be used for noncontact mechanical control of the position of the stereocilia of an inner ear hair cell, yielding displacements of tens of nanometers, with sub-millisecond temporal resolution. We also prove that such mechanical stimulus leads to the influx of ions into the hair cell. Our study demonstrates that a magnetic switch can yield ultrafast temporal resolution, and has capabilities for remote manipulation and biological specificity, and that such magnetic system can be used for the study of mechanotransduction processes of a wide range of sensory systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6590-6598
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul 22

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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