Interfacing neurons on carbon nanotubes covered with diamond
A recently discovered material, carbon nanotubes covered with diamond (DCNTs) was tested for its suitability in bioelectronics applications. Diamond shows advantages for bioelectronics applications (wide electro chemical window and bioinertness). This study investigates the effect of electrode surface shape (flat or three dimensional) on cell growth and behavior. For comparison, flat nanocrystalline diamond substrates were used. Primary embryonic neurons were grown on top of the structures and neither incorporated the structures nor did they grow in between the single structures. The interface was closely examined using focused ion beam (FIB) and scanning electron microscopy. Of special interest was the interface between cell and substrate. 5% to 25% of the cell membrane adhered to the substrate, which fits the theoretical estimated value. While investigating the conformity of the neurons, it could be observed that the cell membrane attaches to different heights of the tips of the 3D structure. However, the aspect ratio of the structures had no effect on the cell viability. These results let us assume that not more than 25% of cell attachment is needed for the survival of a functional neuronal cell.