Multi Channel Systems MEA 2100 Systems

Multi Channel Systems

MEA 2100 Systems





The MEA 2100 System is the most versatile in vitro recording system from Multi Channel Systems. You can record from neuronal or cardiac cultures, stem cells, or brain or cardiac slices.

It is based on an idea from the 1970’s, when Thomas et al. found that electrical activity can be recorded extracellularly with microelectrode arrays (MEA). Over the decades, many peer-reviewed articles have proven that the MEA technology is indeed a very powerful tool in electrophysiology research and the technology around the MEA has improved significantly.

Today, the MEA 2100 System is a very compact solution with integrated amplifier and stimulus generator, temperature control, and the option for real-time signal detection and feedback.

The main advantage of the MEA 2100 System is its flexibility. Various headstage types facilitate the usage of different MEAs. You can record from up to 4 MEAs in parallel, all at a sampling rate of 50 kHz per channel, ensuring an excellent data quality.


The MEA 2100 System consists of several components: MEAs, headstage, interface board, PC with software, temperature controller, as well as an optional perfusion cannula and peristaltic perfusion pump. The system is very flexible, regarding electrode count (32, 60 or 120) and number of MEAs that can be recorded from (1-4). By exchanging single hardware components, it is easy to change the set-up anytime. Please click on the arrows on the right to learn more about the single components.

For a fixed set-up with basic components, we also offer the MEA2100-Lite



The recording process starts at the MEA, the microelectrode array with embedded electrodes. You can culture your cells directly on the MEA or place your slices on it. Normally, it is equipped with a ring, which serves as a culture chamber.

The planar electrodes with a dimension of typically 10-30 µm are arranged in a square recording field where the spacing between these electrodes is in a range of 30-700 µm. The electrodes are embedded in glass substrate with a size of 5×5 cm.

Multi Channel Systems offers the widest variety of MEA layouts. Depending on your headstage, you can use MEAs with 32, 60 or 120 electrodes. You find the complete range of MEAs here.

The MEA2100-System comes with 5 MEAs that fit most applications (opaque tracks (Ti), electrode diameter 30 µm, interelectrode distance 200 µm, with internal reference electrode and glass ring). If you prefer to use another MEA, please let us know when ordering. The complete range of MEAs is available.



The headstage is the core element of the system. It houses and heats the MEA, amplifies and digitizes the signals and has an integrated stimulus generator.

MEA 2100 headstages are available in different variants. You can either place one 32-electrode MEA, one 60-electrode MEA, one 120-electrode MEA, two 32-electrode MEA or two 60-electrode MEAs in the headstage. The contact unit of the MEA-headstage can be changed according to your experimental needs. The rest of the setup is not affected, so changing the contact unit is simple, quick, and cost-effective.

The lid of the headstage can be opened easily and the MEA is placed in the headstage from the top. By closing the lid, the contact pads surrounding the MEA connect to the contact pins.

The built-in amplifier makes sure that the recorded signals are amplified close to the signal source, thereby minimizing noise. The data is then sampled at 50 kHz/channel on all channels simultaneously, ensuring an excellent data quality.

The headstage also provides an integrated stimulator, which can generate current or voltage stimulation signals on 3 independent channels per MEA slot. You can select the stimulation electrodes and design the signal shape via the included software.

For long-term recordings, Multi Channel Systems offers a variety of accessories: You can either cover the ring on the MEA with a semipermeable membrane or place a C02-chamber on the MEA slot. Please talk to your product consultant to find the right solution for your application.

Integrated stimulator

The integrated stimulus generator offers 3 different stimulation patterns (monophasic, biphasic, bursts) per available MEA. You can choose between current and voltage stimulation and select each electrode for stimulation. All configurations (stimulation patterns, output, and  electrodes) are defined via the included MC_Rack data acquisition software, so you can control all parameters of your experiment from within a single program.

Higher throughput

Your MEA 2100 System can also consist of two headstages. You can then run two or four independent experiments at the same time. The data acquisition software opens one instance per MEA, so you can select all settings individually for each MEA.

Temperature control and perfusion

In the MEA 2100 headstage, there is a heating element right beneath the MEA. It is controlled by the included temperature controller, so the temperature of your sample is observed and kept stable at all times. You can select the desired temperature at the device itself or using the included control software TCX-control.

Multi Channel Systems also offer the MEA 2100 System with enhanced perfusion, meaning that the system comes with a heatable perfusion cannula, another temperature controller, and a peristaltic perfusion pump.

The peristaltic pump (PPS2) has two independent channels. The first channel will transport your solution via the perfusion cannula to the sample. The perfusion cannula has a heating element, which is controlled by the temperature controller, so you can define the temperature of your solution. The second channel of the PPS2 can be set independent from the inlet and will take care of the outflow.

The perfusion cannula as well as the outlet tube are hold by magnetic perfusion holders, which can be positioned freely on the headstage.

When ordering a MEA 2100 System with enhanced perfusion, you will receive one perfusion cannula and one peristaltic pump per available MEA slot.

Interface board

The interface board receives data from the headstage via a High Speed eSATA cable. In the interface board, you find a freely programmable digital signal processor, which can be used for real-time signal detection and feedback. Moreover, you find various analog and digital in- and outputs for synchronization with other instruments.  The interface board connects to the computer via USB.

Real-time signal detection and feedback

Real-time signal detection/feedback is integrated in all MEA 2100-60 and -120-Systems. It is an essential feature if you need fast and predictable reactions related to recorded analog signals without time delay. Normally, the signal must be analyzed by the computer, which leads to an unpredictable time delay of the stimulus of at least 100 ms. By moving the analysis from the PC to the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) integrated in the interface board of the MEA 2100 System, the detour is obsolete and the time delay reduced well below 1 ms. Simply define the condition for the feedback and download it to the interface board (1). During recording (2), the DSP filters the data and detects spikes (3), checking whether your condition is fulfilled. When a designated event is detected, the integrated stimulus generator generates the stimulus pulse (4).

Please note that you need a third-party software for programming the DSP.

Computer with software

The last component of the system is the computer with the included software package MC_Rack. With daily lab work in mind, the program is set up like an instrument rack on a workbench, allowing you to combine virtual instruments (e.g. oscilloscope, filter, event detector, spike sorter, sound output, or signal-triggered TTL pulse) in any way you want. MC_Rack has been used many years in laboratories around the world and has proven to be a powerful, flexible and reliable software.

Within the same software, you can design the stimulation patterns and decide when you want to stimulate.

MC_Rack can be used for online and offline analysis of your data. You can also export the data and analyze the data with Neuroexplorer, Matlab or your custom program.

For standardized experiments, Multi Channel Systems offers two software packages available for purchase:Cardio2D for analysis of cardiac cells, tissues, and whole organs and the LTP-Director for standardized LTP experiments in hippocampal slices.

As a policy at Multi Channel Systems, updates of all software packages are available online and free of charge, so you are always up-to-date with recent developments.



The main benefits of the MEA 2100 System are:

  • Versatile system for a variety of applications
  • Very flexible because of different headstage types and possibility to connect two headstages to one interface board
  • Stimulation integrated in MEA-headstage (current and voltage)
  • Recording and stimulation controlled from within one software
  • Large variety of microelectrode arrays
  • Real-time signal detection and feedback possible
  • Powerful and flexible software Multi Channel Suite with unlimited upgrades included