Xona Microfluidics sells two types of microfluidic chambers for culturing neurons or generating neuron co-cultures: newer XonaChips® and our original PDMS-based Silicone Devices. Both formats include two or more main compartments that are connected by microscopic microgrooves, which provide fluidic isolation and guide axonal and dendritic growth but restrict somata. XonaChips® are made in a high quality plastic that is optically transparent, called cyclic olefin copolymer (COC). These chips come preassembled and require fewer assembly steps than our original Silicone Devices. Importantly, both types of microfluidic chambers are well-suited for high resolution imaging (e.g., confocal microscopy).
Advantages of XonaChips®
Xona developed XonaChips® to provide an easier-to-use and fully assembled compartmentalized chamber. One of the main drawbacks of our original Silicone Devices is the material used to make them, PDMS. Some scientists have complained that PDMS has a level of toxicity, binds small hydrophobic compounds, and is unstable. XonaChips® overcome these limitations. The interior of the XonaChips® are made permanently hydrophilic, simplifying device wetting. COC is non-toxic and does not have the issues of adsorption that PDMS has. Note: Although PDMS toxicity has been reported in literature, Xona has not experienced this issue using our Silicone Devices for internal research using murine neuron cultures and there are hundreds of publications using these PDMS devices.
XonaChips® are injection molded. Because of this fabrication process, each chip is the same, resulting in more consistent cultures and better reliability over PDMS molded devices. XonaChips® are provided fully assembled and bonded, so there are no issues with leakage.
High resolution imaging using the XonaChip® produces equivalent results as found in PDMS devices. The Tech Note, Introducing XonaChips, details imaging cells within these chips. All excitation wavelengths tested (405, 488, 568, 647 nm) resulted in comparable results to images acquired in Silicone Devices. Because of the high quality of COC production, there is no autofluorescence of the material.
XonaChips® are available in 2-compartment configurations with varying barrier widths (150, 450, 900 microns) and a 3-compartment configuration (XC-T500). Xona has developed specific protocol for using these chips protocol. XC Pre-CoatTM is included with each XonaChips®order. This pre-coat solution sterilizes the inside of the chip and prevents bubble formation.
Advantages of Silicone (PDMS) Microfluidic Chambers/Devices
Xona continues to make and sell Silicone (PDMS) Devices, and has a loyal customer base that purchases microfluidic chambers made in PDMS. Although a bit more cumbersome to use, there are multiple benefits to using these devices.
First, unlike XonaChips, PDMS devices are removable. Often, scientists would like to remove the PDMS device to be able to evenly stain axons and dendrites within the microgrooves. When the device is bonded and assembled like the XonaChip®, it is difficult to get even staining within the deepest reaches of the microgrooves; thus removing the PDMS from the glass substrate provides an straightforward solution.
Second, we offer open compartment configurations in PDMS that are not currently offered in our XonaChip® line of products. These include the Double Open Compartment device (DOC450), the Single Open Compartment device (SOC450), and the Innsbruck device (IND500).
Third, Xona offers round devices in PDMS that can be attached to wells of 6- and 12-well glass bottom dishes. These formats present an advantage for imaging and increase sample size. To learn more, follow this link.
Finally, Xona offers custom design and fabrication services for approved designs in PDMS. If you are interested in creating a custom design, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Xona Microfluidics, Inc.
Xona Microfluidics, Inc. is a North Carolina corporation located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. More information can be found at xonamicrofluidics.com.
If you are interested in testing XonaChips® or our Silicone Devices contact us at email@example.com.