3D Microelectrode Array for Microengineered Physiological Systems

  • Offers real-time, bioelectrical signal detection, stimulation and recording of neuronal cells within a customizable, microengineered physiological system environment
  • System can accommodate a tissue explant, a suspension of cells, a therapeutic compound, or a combination of these, as well as a neural architecture
  • System enables higher sample size processing with desirable in vivo information as outputs


Researchers at the University of Central Florida and Axosim Technologies, Inc. have developed a 3D microelectrode array for use in microengineered physiological systems that can detect multiple bioelectrical signals reliably in real time and up to a year. By enabling higher throughput, the invention supports the large-scale screening of therapeutic compounds.

Though traditional microengineered physiological systems provide in vivo information in an in vitro setting, the electrophysiological testing requires labor-intensive manual placement of stimulating and recording electrodes using micromanipulators. The process hampers the rate of testing compared to other higher throughput 2D multi-electrode array (MEA) systems. Additionally, conventional planar MEAs cannot capture signals that occur at a certain height when cultures mature to obtain a 3D form.

As a solution, microengineered physiological systems can be integrated with the UCF 3D microelectrode array to automate the process of stimulation, recording or both. Compared to 2D MEA platforms, the 3D electrodes enable a system to interrogate many diverse axonal fibers to realize population-based electrophysiological responses that are more akin to in vivo nerve tissue. It can also capture and analyze signals from thicker, mature tissues, which is especially important in neurological models on a chip. The microelectrode arrays can be used to study pathophysiological mechanisms of toxicity, disease, or any agent within any cell population or to study such effects on any aspect or component of a cell.

Technical Details

The invention is a 3D microelectrode array and methods for fabricating it for use in a microengineered physiological system. It comprises a chip of biocompatible material that can maintain the viability of neuronal cells and can interface with standard commercial multichannel systems and standard commercial recording amplifiers. The chip can consist of at least one 2D electrode, one 3D electrode, or a combination. Complementary to the neural architecture, the array can include various regions, such as an axonal growth region, a ganglion region, a dendritic region, a synaptic region, and a spheroid region. The bioelectrical signals can be single action potentials, compound action potentials, high-frequency waves, low-frequency waves, or various combinations.

In one example application, a microelectrode design can be integrated into a 3D hydrogel environment, enabling rapid electrophysiological testing to study any contents of a cell. This includes organelles, subcellular organelles, cell cytoplasm, or structures within the cell membrane. Certain embodiments can be applied to study microtubules, chromosomes, DNA, RNA, mitochondria, ribosomes, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, vacuoles, or fragments of such items.

Partnering Opportunity

The research team is seeking partners for licensing and/or research collaboration.


  • Real-time detection, stimulation and recording of bioelectrical signals of neural cells and in combination with compound(s) within a microengineering physiological system
  • 3D Makerspace device microfabrication uses traditional technologies, as needed, and has been extended to include toolbox technologies such as 3D spin-cast insulation and electrospinning

Potential Applications

  • Bioelectronics and imaging
  • Neurological research
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Cancer research

Contact Information

Name: Andrea Adkins

Email: Andrea.Adkins@ucf.edu

Phone: 407.823.0138