Original Paper

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 395, Issue 3, pp 601-609

First online:

Plasma stencilling methods for cell patterning

  • Jean-Philippe FrimatAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences Email author 
  • , Heike MenneAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Antje MichelsAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Silke KittelAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Raffael KettlerAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Sabine BorgmannAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Joachim FranzkeAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences
  • , Jonathan WestAffiliated withISAS—Institute for Analytical Sciences

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In this paper we describe plasma stencilling techniques for patterning 10 mammalian cell lines on hydrophobic and cell repellent poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), methylated glass and bacterial grade polystyrene surfaces. An air plasma produced with a Tesla generator operating at atmospheric pressure was used with microengineered stencils for patterned surface oxidation, selectively transforming the surface to a hydrophilic state to enable cell adhesion and growth. Plasma stencilling obviates the need for directly patterning cell adhesion molecules. Instead, during cell culture, adhesion proteins from the media assemble in a bioactive form on the hydrophilic regions. Critically, the removal of protein patterning prior to cell culture provides the option to also use PDMS–PDMS plasma bonding to incorporate cell patterns within microfluidic systems. Linear patterns were generated using PDMS microchannel stencils, and polyimide stencils with through holes were used for the production of cellular arrays. For the production of smaller cellular arrays, a novel microcapillary-based dielectric barrier discharge system was developed. A numerical method to characterise the cell patterns is also introduced and was used to demonstrate that plasma stencilling is highly effective, with complete patterns confined during long term cell culture (>10 days). In summary, plasma stencilling is simple, rapid, inexpensive, reproducible and a potentially universal cell line patterning capability.


Microfluidic plasma stencilling for generating cell lines.


Cell patterning Plasmas Stencil Poly(dimethylsiloxane) Dielectric barrier discharge Microfluidics