Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Degree Level



Biomedical Engineering


Balachandran, Kartik

Committee Member/Reader

Quinn, Kyle


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a major global health concern that have an economic impact of $60 billion in the United States in related costs annually. Developing drugs for TBI treatment is an approach that currently faces limitations involving the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB naturally limits molecules from reaching the brain as a protective mechanism against disease, acting as a barrier during drug delivery. Understanding the BBB mechanically and chemically following a TBI could potentially assist future studies to alleviate the symptoms and long-term effects of TBI by pharmaceuticals. The Mechanobiology and Soft Materials Laboratory (MSML) has been actively researching the nature of TBI, and has previously developed a brain-on-chip device that allows seeding cells that are representative of the BBB and that can be subjected to TBI conditions. This brain-on-chip device contains a porous membrane that separates astrocytes and brain microvascular endothelial cells, but allows them to interact. The aim of this Honors research was to improve the design, fabricate, and mechanically test membranes with different combinations of pore diameters (3µm, 5µm, and 7µm) and center-to-center distances (25µm, 50µm, and 100µm) to determine the mechanical properties of the porous membrane. The resultant methods developed in this study successfully enabled the mechanical testing of the membranes. The results from the mechanical testing, in turn, show no significant statistical differences between fabrication conditions. Consequently, considerations regarding the use of a specific pore spacing and diameter in future studies can focus on surface area for cell adhesion, cell size, and seeding density rather than on mechanical properties.


porous membranes, uniaxial tensile testing, photolithography, soft lithography, traumatic brain injury, blood-brain barrier


Andre E. Figueroa Milla’s research was supported by a University of Arkansas Honors College Research Grant.