In order to coax liver cells into growing on silicon chips,
the exposed surface of the chip must be specially prepared.
First, it is finely etched with a texture of microscopic pores.
Then, the surface is chemically treated to mimic the structural
elements of the liver's natural environment. The result is
an artificial scaffolding on which liver cells adhere and
this activity, you'll have the opportunity to test how the
surface coating of a substrate affects the success of a biofilm.
A biofilm is a sticky, slimy coating made from carbohydrates.
It is produced by colonies of bacteria and algal cells.
activity page will offer:
Insight into factors that affect cell adhesion.
opportunity to observe the production of a biofilm.
opportunity to test the effects of surface coatings on the
production of biofilms
2-liter container (with top half removed)
of water from an aquarium overgrown with algae
clay (from florist supply store or craft store)
a plastic 2-liter container that has been prepared by your
the container 3/4 full with spring water.
the container by adding a cup of water that has been taken
from an aquarium environment overgrown with algae.
both sides of a plastic microscope slide with a thick layer
of petroleum jelly.
one end of the coated slide into a marble-sized lump of
waterproof clay, then place the coated slide into the container,
clay-side down. Make sure that the clay offers a stable
base to keep the slide supported upright in the water column.
step 5 using a slide that has been coated with suntan lotion.
step 5 using a slide that has not been coated with any material.
the top with plastic wrap to prevent the evaporation of
the covered container with its three upright slides in a
location where the setup will not be disturbed.
about ten days. Carefully remove the slides. Do not disturb
any film that may have grown on the surface of the slides.
examine the surface of each slide by holding it up to a
light. Which slide appears the least transparent, having
the most dense bioflim coverage? Now touch each surface.
Compare and contrast their appearances and feel.
did the slime-producing microorganisms come from?
step 7, a slide that was not coated with any materials was
placed into the container. Explain.
did the biofilm coverage compare? What factors seemed to
promote the growth of a biofilm?
can you apply what you've learned in this activity to the
content of this segment of SAF?
how the liver chip looked in the program? Think about its
pitted surface and the network of pores that transported nutrients
and waste to and from the liver cells. Then, use a variety
of art materials to construct a sculpture that represents
the liver chip. Your sculpture can either be a scientific
model that accurately portrays this liver chip or it can be
a creative, artistic representation.
Imagine being inside a microscopic submarine whose mission
is to explore the liver chip. Using this unique perspective,
create a fictional log that describes what you observe as
you navigate in and around the chip structure.
This site offers an overview of liver cell structure and function.
An online article for the general public that describes the
success in culturing liver cells on a silicon chip.
This site describes the use of liver cell cultures in assembling
an artificial liver.
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,