Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1269-1278

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Triangular neuronal networks on microelectrode arrays: an approach to improve the properties of low-density networks for extracellular recording

  • Melanie JungblutAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research
  • , Wolfgang KnollAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research
  • , Christiane ThielemannAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer ResearchFaculty of Engineering, University of Applied Science Email author 
  • , Mark PottekAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer ResearchDepartment for Zoology, Technical University of Kaiserslautern


Multi-unit recording from neuronal networks cultured on microelectrode arrays (MEAs) is a widely used approach to achieve basic understanding of network properties, as well as the realization of cell-based biosensors. However, network formation is random under primary culture conditions, and the cellular arrangement often performs an insufficient fit to the electrode positions. This results in the successful recording of only a small fraction of cells. One possible approach to overcome this limitation is to raise the number of cells on the MEA, thereby accepting an increased complexity of the network. In this study, we followed an alternative strategy to increase the portion of neurons located at the electrodes by designing a network in confined geometries. Guided settlement and outgrowth of neurons is accomplished by taking control over the adhesive properties of the MEA surface. Using microcontact printing a triangular two-dimensional pattern of the adhesion promoter poly-D-lysine was applied to the MEA offering a meshwork that at the same time provides adhesion points for cell bodies matching the electrode positions and gives frequent branching points for dendrites and axons. Low density neocortical networks cultivated under this condition displayed similar properties to random networks with respect to the cellular morphology but had a threefold higher electrode coverage. Electrical activity was dominated by periodic burst firing that could pharmacologically be modulated. Geometry of the network and electrical properties of the patterned cultures were reproducible and displayed long-term stability making the combination of surface structuring and multi-site recording a promising tool for biosensor applications.


Cell patterning Neuronal networks Microelectrode arrays Microcontact printing Cell-based Biosensors Burst firing