Compartmentalized microfluidic devices, pioneered by Xona Microfluidics, have become mainstays of neuron-based cell culture assays. These devices (or chips) have been instrumental in many research areas, including for the study of Alzheimer’s disease, CNS injury & regeneration, microtubule-based transport, and studying the influence of astrocytes and microglia on neuronal function.

Increasing throughput continues to be an enormous need for compartmentalized cultures. Current approaches using PDMS are not adequate to create higher density platforms because of registration issues due to shrinkage making automated imaging next to impossible. Xona Microfluidics has overcome this limitation by developing a new injection molded XonaChip called the X4 chip. This chip contains multiple sample units that are always the same location and size–a huge advance for automated imaging and drug discovery efforts. Further, these chips (the size of standard microscope slides) can be combined in a 4-slide plate holder to yield sixteen (16) sample units.

Increasing sample size of neuron-based assays presents a challenge because neurons are post-mitotic, in finite supply, and require long culture times. There exists a need to develop assays that use fewer neurons per culture unit so that sample size can be increased given a fixed number of neurons. To address this need, Xona developed a new microfluidic platform called the Small Footprint (SF) device. This post focuses on the XonaChip® version of the SF device. A PDMS version of the SF configuration containing two (2) culture units is also available.

The outside dimensions of the X4 chip are the same as a standard microscope slide. Each X4 culture unit has a smaller culture surface area so that fewer neurons are needed compared with our earlier XonaChips®. With this new culture platform, half or fewer neurons are needed compared with our standard devices. This X4 chips is ideal for imaging-based assays with fewer microgrooves (18) than previous versions. The microgroove barrier width is 150 µm.

To facilitate cell loading and reproducibility, the X4 chip has 2 mm diameter cell loading ports. This smaller cell port eliminates the need for angling the pipette tip and makes cell loading more consistent between culture units.

Check out our protocols page to learn more about how to use the X4 chip. To request a sample, please email



Xona Microfluidics is a US-based company that makes compartmentalized microfluidic chambers for culturing neurons and creating co-culture and innervation models in vitro. Xona’s technology is also used to model multi-cellular environments for organ-on-a-chip or microphysiological system applications. Xona provides contract research services in addition to product sales, using our microfluidic platforms to develop scalable neuron-based assays. Our patented compartmentalized chip technology directs the growth of axons from a somatodendritic compartment to an isolated axonal compartment allowing distinct microenvironments within each compartment to be established. Xona sells compartmentalized microfluidic chambers in two formats: Preassembled XonaChips® and original Silicone (PDMS) Devices. Over 1,000 publications cite our compartmentalized microfluidic devices and chips. Many of these publications can be found on our publications page.


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