Preprint / Version 1

Novel Fabrication Approach of a Porous Silicon Biocompatible Membrane Evaluated within a Alveolar Coculture Model


  • Marcus A. C. Williams
  • Cooper Wiens
  • Adam Hamilton
  • Sophie Mancha
  • Madeline Stalder
  • Koby Vargas
  • Jerry Crawford
  • Yiyan Li
  • Sarah Schreiner
  • David J. Blake
  • Jeffrey Richard Jessing



biocompatible membrane, co-culture, lung-on-a-chip, novel fabrication method, porous silicon membrane, through-etching


The use of conventional in vitro and preclinical animal models often fail to properly recapitulate the complex nature of human diseases and hamper the success of translational therapies in humans [1-3] Consequently, research has moved towards organ-on-chip technology to better mimic human tissue interfaces and organ functionality. Herein, we describe a novel approach for the fabrication of a biocompatible membrane made of porous silicon (PSi) for use in organ-on-chip technology that provides key advantages when modeling complex tissue interfaces seen in vivo. By combining well-established methods in the semiconductor industry with organ-on-chip technology, we have developed a novel way of producing thin (25 μm) freestanding PSi biocompatible membranes with both nano (~15.5 nm diameter pores) and macroporous (~0.5 μm diameter pores) structures. To validate the proposed novel membrane, we chose to recapitulate the dynamic environment of the alveolar blood gas exchange interface in alveolar co-culture. Viability assays and immunofluorescence imaging indicate that human pulmonary cells remain viable on the PSi membrane during long-term culture (14 days). Interestingly, it was observed that macrophages can significantly remodel and degrade the PSi membrane substrate in culture. This degradation will allow for more intimate physiological cellular contact between cells, mimicking a true blood-gas exchange interface as observed in vivo. Broadly, we believe that this novel PSi membrane may be used in more complex organ-on-chip and lab-on-chip model systems to accurately recapitulate human anatomy and physiology to provide further insight into human disease pathology and pre-clinical response to therapeutics.


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