Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 935–948

Precise cell patterning using cytophobic self-assembled monolayer deposited on top of semi-transparent gold

  • Gaoshan Jing
  • Susan F. Perry
  • Svetlana Tatic-Lucic

DOI: 10.1007/s10544-010-9448-8

Cite this article as:
Jing, G., Perry, S.F. & Tatic-Lucic, S. Biomed Microdevices (2010) 12: 935. doi:10.1007/s10544-010-9448-8


This paper reports a simple and effective method for cell patterning by using a self-assembled monolayer (SAM)-treated glass surface which is surrounded by semi-transparent gold coated with another type of SAM. Specifically, a hydrophobic SAM, derived from 1-hexadecanethiol (HDT), was coated on the gold surface to prevent cell growth, and a hydrophilic SAM, derived from 3-trimethoxysilyl propyl-diethylenetriamine (DETA), was coated on the exposed glass surface to promote cell growth. The capabilities of this technique are as follows: 1) single-cell resolution, 2) easy alignment of the cell patterns to the structures already existing on the substrate, 3) visualization and verification of the predefined cytophobic/cytophilic pattern prior to cell growth, and 4) convenient monitoring cell growth at the same location for an extended long term period of time. Whereas a number of earlier techniques have demonstrated the single cell resolution, or visualization and verification of the cytophobic/cytophilic patterns prior to cell growth, we believe that our technique is unique in possessing all of these beneficial qualities at the same time. The distinguishing characteristic of our technique is, however, that the use of semi-transparent Cr/Au film allows for convenient brightfield pattern visualization and offers an advantage over previously developed methods which require fluorescent imaging. We have successfully demonstrated the patterning of four different kinds of cells using this technique: immortalized mouse hypothalamic neurons (GT1-7), mouse osteoblast cells (MC3T3), mouse fibroblast cells (NIH3T3) and primary rat hippocampal neurons. This study was performed with a specific ultimate application—the creation of a multi electrode array (MEA) with predefined localization of cell bodies on top of the electrodes, as well as predefined patterns for cell extensions to grow in between the electrodes. With that goal in mind, we have also determined critical parameters for patterning of each of these cell types, such as the minimum size of a cell-adherent island for exclusively anchoring one cell or two cells, as well as the width of the cytophilic pathway between two islands that enables cell extensions to grow, while preventing the anchoring of the cell bodies. Additionally, we have provided statistical analysis of the occupancy for various sizes and shape of cell-anchoring islands. As demonstrated here, we have developed a novel and reliable cell patterning technique, which can be utilized in various applications, such as biosensors or tissue engineering.


Cell patterning Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) Single cell patterning 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gaoshan Jing
    • 1
  • Susan F. Perry
    • 2
  • Svetlana Tatic-Lucic
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Sherman Fairchild Center, Department of Electrical & Computer EngineeringLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.BethlehemUSA

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