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URMC / Labs / McGrath Lab / Projects / Porous Nanocrystalline Silicon Membranes as Highly Permeable and Molecularly Thin Substrates for Cel

Porous Nanocrystalline Silicon Membranes as Highly Permeable and Molecularly Thin Substrates for Cel

cell growth

Cell Growth

Porous nanocrystalline silicon (pnc-Si) is new type of silicon nanomaterial with potential uses in lab-on-a-chip devices, cell culture, and tissue engineering. The pnc-Si material is a 15 nm thick, freestanding, nanoporous membrane made with scalable silicon manufacturing. Because pnc-Si membranes are approximately 1000 times thinner than any polymeric membrane, their permeability to small solutes is orders-of-magnitude greater than conventional membranes. As cell culture substrates, pnc-Si membranes can overcome the shortcomings of membranes used in commercial transwell devices and enable new devices for the control of cellular microenvironments. The current study investigates the feasibility of pnc-Si as a cell culture substrate by measuring cell adhesion, morphology, growth and viability on pnc-Si compared to conventional culture substrates. Results for immortalized fibroblasts and primary vascular endothelial cells are highly similar on pnc-Si, polystyrene and glass. Significantly, pnc-Si dissolves in cell culture media over several days without cytotoxic effects and stability is tunable by modifying the density of a superficial oxide. The results establish pnc-Si as a viable substrate for cell culture and a degradable biomaterial. Pnc-Si membranes should find use in the study of molecular transport through cell monolayers, in studies of cell-cell communication, and as biodegradable scaffolds for three-dimensional tissue constructs.

In this work we measure cell growth, adhesion and viability on pnc-Si and compare the values to standard cell culture substrates. Results show that pnc-Si has no detrimental effects on cells and actually enhances growth rates for some cell types. The manuscript also demonstrates pnc-Si dissolves in biological media in a non-toxic fashion at rates that can be controlled through surface treatments. The work establishes the viability of pnc-Si as a new platform for cell culture and tissue engineering.

Reference

Agrawal et al. (July, 2010). Porous nanocrystalline silicon membranes as highly permeable and molecularly thin substrates for cell culture. Biomaterials 31:5408-17.

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