Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

First Advisor

Guymon, C. A.

First Committee Member

Hansen, Marlan R.

Second Committee Member

Fiegel, Jennifer

Third Committee Member

Jessop, Julie L.P.

Fourth Committee Member

Rethwisch, David G.


Cochlear implants (CIs) help to restore basic auditory function in patients who are deaf or have profound hearing loss. However, CI patients suffer from limited voice and tonal perception due to spatial separation between the stimulating CI electrode and the receptor spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). Directed regeneration of proximate SGN axons may improve tonal performance and implant fidelity by decreasing the spatial separation between the CI electrode and the neural receptor. Additionally, fibrous scar tissue formation on the surface of implanted electrodes further decreases tonal perception through current attenuation and spreading resulting in late-term hearing loss. Thus, designing surfaces that induce favorable responses from neural tissues will be necessary in overcoming signal resolution barriers. In this work, the inherent spatial and temporal control of photopolymerization was used to functionalize surfaces with topographical and biochemical micropatterns that control the outgrowth of neural and other cell types. First, laminin, a cell adhesion protein was patterned using a photodeactivation process onto methacrylate polymer surfaces and was shown to direct the growth of spiral ganglion neurons (SGN), the primary auditory neural receptors. These protein patterns could even overcome low amplitude/high periodicity competing topographical cues. Additionally, glass substrates were patterned with linear zwitterionic polymers and fibroblasts, astrocytes, and Schwann cells all showed dramatically decreased cell adhesion on 100 µm precocity patterns. Further, SGN neurites showed excellent alignment to these same patterns. Next, poly(dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) was coated with a crosslinked zwitterionic thin film using a single step photografting/photopolymerization process to covalently bind the hydrogel to PDMS. These coated surfaces showed dramatically lower levels of protein, cell, and bacterial adhesion. Finally, zwitterionic hydrogels were strengthened by changing the concentration of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) and 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) in the formulation. The direct relationship between changing zwitterionic hydrogel formulation to strengthen the hydrogel and the anti-fouling properties were established. The fundamental understanding and design of cochlear implant materials described herein serves as a foundation for the development of next generation neural prosthetics.


Biomaterials, Foreign Body Response, Neural Prosthetics, Photopolymerization, Zwitterion


xxi, 210 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 176-210).


Copyright © 2018 Braden Lynn Leigh