Microneedle Platforms for Cell Analysis

  • Mincho Kavaldzhiev

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Micro-needle platforms are the core components of many recent drug delivery and gene-editing techniques, which allow for intracellular access, controlled cell membrane stress or mechanical trapping of the nucleus. This dissertation work is devoted to the development of micro-needle platforms that offer customized fabrication and new capabilities for enhanced cell analyses. The highest degree of geometrical flexibility is achieved with 3D printed micro-needles, which enable optimizing the topographical stress environment for cells and cell populations of any size. A fabrication process for 3D-printed micro-needles has been developed as well as a metal coating technique based on standard sputter deposition. This extends the functionalities of the platforms by electrical as well as magnetic features. The micro-needles have been tested on human colon cancer cells (HCT116), showing a high degree of biocompatibility of the platform. Moreover, the capabilities of the 3D-printed micro-needles have been explored for drug delivery via the well-established electroporation technique, by coating the micro-needles with gold. Antibodies and fluorescent dyes have been delivered to HCT116 cells and human embryonic kidney cells with a very high transfection rate up to 90%. In addition, the 3D-printed electroporation platform enables delivery of molecules to suspended cells or adherent cells, with or without electroporation buffer solution, and at ultra-low voltages of 2V. In order to provide a micro-needle platform that exploits existing methods for mass fabrication a custom designed template-based process has been developed. It has been used for the production of gold, iron, nickel and poly-pyrrole micro-needles on silicon and glass substrates. A novel delivery method is introduced that activates the micro-needles by electromagnetic induction, which enables to wirelessly gain intracellular access. The method has been successfully tested on HCT116 cells in culture, where a time-dependent delivery rate has been found. The electromagnetic delivery concept is particularly promising for future in-vivo applications. Finally, the micro-needle platforms developed in this work will provide researchers with new capabilities that will help them to further advance the field of mechanobiology, drug delivery treatments, stem cells research and more. The proposed platforms are capable of applying various stimuli, analyzing cell responses in real time, drug delivery, and they also have the potential to add additional functionalities in the future.
Date of AwardNov 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJurgen Kosel (Supervisor)


  • microneedles
  • 3D printing
  • Magnetic Pillars
  • Electroporation
  • Drug Delivery
  • Induction heating

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