Document Type



Master of Science


Materials Science and Engineering

First Adviser

Misiolek, Wojciech Z.


Anodic Aluminum Oxide (AAO) membranes can be fabricated with a highly tunable pore structure making them a suitable candidate for cellular hybrid devices with single-molecule selectivity. The objective of this study was to characterize the cellular response of AAO membranes with varying pore sizes to serve as a proof-of-concept for an artificial material/cell synapse system. AAO membranes with pore diameters ranging from 34-117 nm were achieved via anodization at a temperature of -1̊C in a 2.7% oxalic acid electrolyte. An operating window was established for this setup to create membranes with through-pore and disordered pore morphologies. C17.2 neural stem cells were seeded onto the membranes and differentiated via serum withdrawal. The data suggests a highly tunable correlation between AAO pore diameter and differentiated cell populations. Analysis of membranes before and after cell culture indicated no breakdown of the through-pore structure. Immunocytochemistry (ICC) showed that AAO membranes had increased neurite outgrowth when compared to tissue culture treated (TCT) glass, and neurite outgrowth varied with pore diameter. Additionally, lower neuronal percentages were found on AAO as compared to TCT glass; however, neuronal population was also found to vary with pore diameter. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and ICC images suggested the presence of a tissue-like layer with a mixed-phenotype population. AAO membranes appear to be an excellent candidate for cellular devices, but more work must be completed to understand the surface chemistry of the AAO membranes as it relates to cellular response.