- Scalable, cost-effective makerspace microfabrication technology for 3D metal microelectrode arrays (MEAs) or microneedle platforms
- Enables rapid development of in vitro “organ-on-a-chip” and cellular disease modeling assays
- Customizable hypodermic needle array works standalone or as part of a microsensor assembly
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed a simple, inexpensive solution for fabricating 3D metal microelectrode arrays (MEAs) and microneedle platforms. Compared to current technologies, the UCF makerspace technology overcomes issues such as brittleness, high expense, complexity, and unrepeatable processes. As a result, the invention offers cost- and time-saving steps to produce microelectrode platforms for multiple biosystem applications. Examples include lab-on-a-chip devices, disease modeling, pre-clinical drug discovery, and drug/therapeutic delivery systems. Also, 3D MEAs configured using the technology performed comparably to conventional 3D MEAs.
The UCF fabrication technology comprises methods and techniques for developing microelectrode platforms. Besides enabling faster microfabrication outside the cleanroom, the makerspace invention also provides a better way to transition 2D MEA structures to 3D. Microelectrodes are typically machined in 2D and then transitioned by hand to 3D. However, at meso- and micro-scale levels, the transition process can result in inconsistencies and unwanted variability. The UCF technology resolves the problem by providing a custom-fabricated Hypodermic Needle Array (Hypo-Rig) that performs the transition faster and with greater precision. The array also complements existing microfabrication and assembly techniques such as laser micromachining and micromilling.
Simple in its design, the technology uses inexpensive materials (such as printing resin, epoxy and hypodermic needles) and is scalable for high volume production. In one example use, the Hypo-Rig array successfully batch-transitioned steel MEA arrays and micromilled microneedle arrays from 1x2 to 19x20 conformation in 2D to a tight, near-vertical grouping in 3D in a single step. The Hypo-Rig can act as a standalone hollow mesoneedle or microneedle array for drug delivery applications.
In another example, the research team built a viable culturing and substrate-agnostic 3D metal MEA platform. The team used micro-stereolithographic (µSLA) 3D printing, laser micromachining, the Hypo-Rig assembly technique, and other standard microfabrication processes. In experimental results, the 70μm microelectrodes demonstrated an impedance of 45.4kOhms at 1 kHz, and the Hypo-Rig transition enabled a tight Gaussian distribution of 70-degree conversion angles.
The research team is looking for partners to develop the technology further for commercialization.
Stage of Development