Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




General Physics

Committee Chair

Firouzeh Sabri

Committee Member

Omar Skalli

Committee Member

Bashir Morshed

Committee Member

Jingbiao Cui


Polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel (PCSA) is an open pore light-weight and topographically rich material with tunable physical and chemical properties. Because of the unique properties of this material, and the ability to tailor the properties to specific needs and applications, PCSA has attracted significant interest from the biophysical and biomedical fields in recent years. Recent advances in cell biology and biophysics have demonstrated that cells respond to their micro- and nanoscale environmental cues in the presence and/or absence of electrical cues and stimuli. Aerogels offer a unique platform for studying the effects of topography, substrate stiffness, and porosity on cellular behavior individually or in combination. Furthermore, it is possible to create circuitry on a PCSA substrate that enables the design of “smart” substrates and implants. This work investigates the response of primed PC12 neuron analogs to external cues namely (1) substrate stiffness, (2) topography, and (3) applied DC bias of varying strengths. The results were compared with PC 12 cells grown on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) substrates that served as the control for this study. It was found that PC12 cells grew longer yet fewer neurites on PCSA compared to those on TCPS with and without the applied electrical stimulation. It was also shown that in the presence of applied electric fields, PC12 neurites grew longer towards the anode than towards the cathode on both PCSA and TCPS surfaces. This work further contributes to our understanding of the influence that external stimuli have on PC12 cells, and, suggests that PCSA can potentially serve as a biomaterial to aid in nerve repair.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.