Fabrication of cell container arrays with overlaid surface topographies

R.K. Truckenmüller, S. Giselbrecht, M. Escalante Marun, M.N.W. Groenendijk, B.J. Papenburg, N.C. Rivron, H.V. Unadkat, V. Saile, Vinod Subramaniam, Clemens van Blitterswijk, Albert van den Berg, Matthias Wessling, Jan de Boer, Dimitrios Stamatialis

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This paper presents cell culture substrates in the form of microcontainer arrays with overlaid surface topographies, and a technology for their fabrication. The new fabrication technology is based on microscale thermoforming of thin polymer films whose surfaces are topographically prepatterned on a micro- or nanoscale. For microthermoforming, we apply a new process on the basis of temporary back moulding of polymer films and use the novel concept of a perforated-sheet-like mould. Thermal micro- or nanoimprinting is applied for prepatterning. The novel cell container arrays are fabricated from polylactic acid (PLA) films. The thin-walled microcontainer structures have the shape of a spherical calotte merging into a hexagonal shape at their upper circumferential edges. In the arrays, the cell containers are arranged densely packed in honeycomb fashion. The inner surfaces of the highly curved container walls are provided with various topographical micro- and nanopatterns. For a first validation of the microcontainer arrays as in vitro cell culture substrates, C2C12 mouse premyoblasts are cultured in containers with microgrooved surfaces and shown to align along the grooves in the three-dimensional film substrates. In future stem-cell-biological and tissue engineering applications, microcontainers fabricated using the proposed technology may act as geometrically defined artificial microenvironments or niches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalBiomedical microdevices
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • IR-79976
  • EWI-21696
  • METIS-283267


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