The use of CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) integrated circuits to create electrodes for biosensors, implants and drug-discovery has several potential advantages over passive multi-electrode arrays (MEAs). However, unmodified aluminium CMOS electrodes may corrode in a physiological environment. We have investigated a low-cost electrode design based on the modification of CMOS metallisation to produce a nanoporous alumina electrode as an interface to mammalian neuronal cells and corrosion inhibitor. Using NG108-15 mouse neuroblastoma x rat glioma hybrid cells, results show that porous alumina is biocompatible and that the inter-pore distance (pore pitch) of the alumina has no effect on cell vitality. To establish whether porous alumina and a cell membrane can produce a tight junction required for good electrical coupling between electrode and cell, we devised a novel cell detachment centrifugation assay to assess the long-term adhesion of cells. Results show that porous alumina substrates produced with a large pore pitch of 206 nm present a significantly improved surface compared to the unmodified aluminium control and that small pore-pitches of 17 nm and 69 nm present a less favourable surface for cell adhesion.