Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Gregory W. Auner


The brain is the most complex organ in the body due to the multiple cell types,

billions of tightly packed synapses, extracellular matrix, and intricate topography. Microelectrical-mechanical

fabrication techniques exhibit promise in the field of neuronal

tissue engineering because the shape is highly controllable and a variety of materials can

be used in creation of bioreactors. This work evaluates the ability of a free standing TiO2

coated fractal scaffold to support healthy neuronal growth. Also evaluated is the

propensity for the neurons to take advantage of the 3D growing surface without the use of

complex extracellular matrix factors over the course of eleven days in vitro. The results

indicate that while it is possible for neurons to grow on the MEMs fabricated fractal

scaffold and grow in 3D, key adjustments to the scaffold and cell adhesion protein will

better facilitate long term neuronal growth in future generations of the brain bioreactor.