Ph.D. Candidate, University of Central Florida
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“Polymer functionalized 3D microelectrode array (MEA) biosensors”
Microelectrode arrays (MEAs) are sensors used to spatially and temporally probe electrogenic cellular activity in vivo and in vitro. Such systems act as an interface between cells and electronic systems to transduce cellular signals into electronic signals. Conventional MEAs are typically planar in nature, however, 3D MEAs offer several advantages such as better simulation of an in vivo cellular environment, improved signal- to-noise ratio, and improved cell-electrode coupling. We have demonstrated the fabrication, characterization, and even functionalization of in vitro 3D MEA devices utilizing 3D printing and subsequent benchtop techniques. The functionalization of our devices has been achieved using various polymers and material engineering methods.
I will first talk about our paper on the fabrication and characterization of our 3D MEAs and the interface with neural cell cultures. Furthermore, the importance of the biocompatibility of the resin involved in 3D printing as a biological interface will be discussed. Next, I will present another paper where polymer scaffolds were incorporated on top of our 3D MEAs as a demonstration of a 3D cell culture method. We were able to further load silver nanoparticles within the polymers scaffolds to demonstrate the MEA as drug delivery system. Additionally, in the same paper we introduced a technique to define a 3D insulation layer, which is typically difficult to achieve, atop of 3D MEAs using a spin- cast method to obtain a thin layer of polystyrene film.
Although a conformal and uniform polystyrene insulation film was demonstrated, there were issues with adhesion during cell culturing. Finally, I will present my current unpublished work on addressing this poor adhesion issue by using polydopamine, which is a biopolymer, as an adhesive layer between the resin and the polystyrene film. We found that polydopamine and increased resin polymerization during print improved polystyrene and resin interactions during incubation.
Nilab Azim, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Central Florida
Nilab Azim received her B.S. degrees in chemistry and biology from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, USA, in 2016. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in chemistry with the University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA. She is also a Graduate Research Assistant with the University of Central Florida, working with Prof. Rajaraman’s NanoBioSensors and Systems Laboratory and Prof. L. Zhai’s Polymer Nanomaterials Laboratory, NanoScience Technology Center, Orlando, FL, USA. Her current research interests include fabrication of biosensors, integration of non-traditional materials with devices, study of polymer nanomaterials, and surface materials engineering. During her Ph.D. she has published 7 research articles, one review article, and presented 4 posters and 1 oral presentation. She is currently a NASA Pathways intern at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida working on various in situ resource utilization projects for the Artemis program.