Silane, BioMEMS, Self-assembled monolayers, whispering gallery mode, photolithography


Advances in microfabrication and surface chemistry techniques have provided a new paradigm for the creation of in vitro systems for studying problems in biology and medicine in ways that were previously not practical. The ability to create devices with micro- to nano-scale dimensions provides the opportunity to non-invasively interrogate and monitor biological cells and tissue in large arrays and in a high-throughput manner. These systems hold the potential to, in time, revolutionize the way problems in biology and medicine are studied in the form of point-of-care devices, lab-on-chip devices, and biological microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS). With new in vitro models, it will be possible to reduce the overall cost of medical and biological research by performing high-throughput experiments while maintaining control over a wide variety of experimental variables. A critical aspect of developing these sorts of systems, however, is controlling the device/tissue interface. The surface chemistry of cell-biomaterial and protein-biomaterial interactions is critical for long-term efficacy and function of such devices. The work presented here is focused on the application of surface and analytical chemistry techniques for better understanding the interface of biological elements with silica substrates and the development a novel Bio-MEMS device for studying muscle and neuromuscular biology. A novel surface patterning technique based on the use of a polyethylene glycol (PEG) silane self-assembled monolayer (SAM) as a cytophobic surface and the amine-terminated silane diethyeletriamine (DETA) as a cytophilic surface was developed for patterning a variety of cell types (e.g. skeletal muscle, and neural cells) over long periods of time (over 40 days) with high fidelity to the patterns. This method was then used to pattern embryonic rat skeletal muscle and motor neurons onto microfabricated silicon cantilevers creating a novel biological microelectromechanical system (BioMEMS) for studying muscle and the neuromuscular junction. This device was then used to study the effect of exogenously applied substances such as growth factors and toxins. Furthermore, a whispering-gallery mode (WGM) biosensor was developed for measuring the adsorption of various proteins onto glass microspheres coated with selected silane SAMS commonly used in BioMEMS system. With this biosensor it was possible to measure the kinetics of protein adsorption onto alkylsilane SAMS, in a real-time and label-free manner.


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Graduation Date



Hickman, James


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

April 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Chemistry Commons