(Nanowerk News) Having been the first European facility to use NanoInk’s Dip Pen Nanolithography® (DPN®) technology in 2005, one of Germany’s premier research institutes, the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK), has recently taken delivery of the first of two new systems to meet the increased user demand. Located in the Nanomechanics Group of Professor Harald Fuchs, DPN is being used to drive practical applications in the fields of drug discovery, tissue engineering and the early detection of specific diseases. The Centre now offers open access to these instruments through the Karlsruhe NanoMicro Facility (KNMF).
Steven Lenhert from FZK with the new NLP 2000 nanofabrication system from NanoInk.
The FZK has developed methods applying DPN for patterning with biological membrane lipids. Phospholipids are important biological molecules that self-assemble under physiological conditions to form the bilayer structure of biological membranes. However, available methods for generating phospholipid arrays on surfaces are severely limited in their lateral resolution. Based on non-covalent adhesion and humidity control of the liquid crystalline phase of the ink, it is possible to use phospholipids as a universal ink for DPN on a variety of substrates. Being able to produce 3D liposome-like structures on a surface allows model cells and membranes to be constructed. Taken further, DPN’s unique multiplexing writing with different inks has provided the concept from which combinatorial nanostructure libraries of materials have been successfully developed.
The original platform for DPN was based on an atomic force microscope (AFM). However, for biological experiments, a rapid scale-up system is required to generate hundreds if not thousands of samples for testing to provide the required statistical approach of the biologist. A high powered imaging system was no longer required. This has driven the development of the NanoInk NLP 2000 nanofabrication platform to provide an easy-to-use system with a vastly increased speed of output for the generation of huge phospholipid arrays.
Commenting on their new NLP platform capabilities, FZK’s DPN group leader, Dr. Steven Lenhert said “As expected, the NLP is an amazing piece of equipment that takes micro/nanoarraying to the next level. In just the first day, I had already made functional nanostructures with it that I believe would be impossible to make with any other existing fabrication method. We are still realizing the possibilities it opens up, and I think it will really enable us and the growing DPN community to make some major scientific breakthroughs.”
The head of the laboratory, Professor Fuchs, says “our Lipid Dip-Pen Nanolithography project is a transatlantic collaboration supported by the DFG and the NSF. It is looking at basic research into the manufacture and study of new structures which could lead to very important advances in biological and medical applications. These will include model bio-membrane systems to enable a better understanding of how the cell membrane functions and how this may lead to new ways of getting therapeutic drugs into cells.”
About NanoInk Inc.
NanoInk, Inc. is an emerging growth technology company specializing in nanometer-scale manufacturing and applications development for the life science and semiconductor industries. Using Dip Pen Nanolithography® (DPN®), a patented and proprietary nanofabrication technology, scientists are enabled to rapidly and easily create nanoscale structures from a wide variety of materials. This low cost, easy to use and scalable technique brings sophisticated nanofabrication to the laboratory desktop.
Located in the new Illinois Science + Technology Park, north of Chicago, NanoInk currently has over 140 patents and applications filed worldwide and has licensing agreements with Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of Strathclyde, University of Liverpool, California Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
About Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
The Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK) is member of the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers and one of the biggest science and engineering research institutions in Germany. Its research and development programs extend over areas of industrial pre-commercialization phase research, product and process development, provident research, and fundamental scientific research. In conducting this research, it is cooperated with partners from science and industry. Another major task is the operation of large-scale devices also for external users.
FZK’s DPN instrumentation and expertise are available to external users world-wide via the Karlsruhe NanoMicro Facility (KNMF) and the European project, EUMINAFab. These programs accept proposals for instrument time and travel costs (for European users) which are granted upon positive evaluation based on scientific merit provided the results will be published.