Leveraging potential - open access to nano technologies for bio applications

Susan Anson 

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe 76131, Germany

Abstract

The trend towards personalised health care and the demands of an aging society provide a growing market for innovative solutions with nano and/or micro enabled components. EUMINAfab offers technologies for prototype development of individual components or to R&D investigations related to Point of Care Systems and lab-on-a-chip solutions.

This includes fabrication of components and moulds with the possibility of  short series replication, e.g. components for medical applications from metals, ceramics and polymers, the coating of tools and components also fabrication of micro fluidic channels and through holes for disposable devices.

Surface functionalisation of polymers, metals ceramics and bio-patterning of substrates (e.g. scaffolds), is also possible.

In the area of biosensors applications are invited for functional patterning of substrates combining different (bio-compatible) materials such as polymers and metals. Additionally, nano patch clamping and imaging of components is possible.

This paper presents an overview of the types of application found for the life science area and the maturity of the types of tasks requested .

Aim/Introduction

Nano and Microsystems technologies are widely accepted to be cross cutting technologies with a relevance for application in a broad range of areas.  Innovative ideas based on solutions using micro and nano fabrication technologies require access not only to high-end equipment but also the essential highly skilled personnel. It is not possible for SMEs or even most research departments to justify investment in a comprehensive range of technologies and trained personnel, especially when the need is to try out the feasibility of a new idea or develop a one off tool.

European Research Infrastructures (ERIs) aim to overcome these barriers by enabling open access to such high-end technologies. However, newly founded ERIs face the challenge of finding users for their equipment. Personal contacts between technologists resident at the infrastructure and their colleagues from outside, as well as contacts with relevant networks, technology platforms and associations give an important starting point for advertising the services. However questions are still to be raised as to how best to market the availability of technologies and expertise to a wider but still relevant community; a community which in fact may not be familiar with the capabilities of the technologies offered to find solutions to their challenging problems, or indeed generate new ideas.

EUMINAfab (www.euminafab.eu) is a European Research Infrastructure funded under the EU FP7 Capacities Specific Programme.  The focus of this ERI is on multimaterial micro and nano fabrication and characterization technologies. An important project aim is to increase the realization in the wider MNT community of the possibilities created by the use of high-end micro and nano equipment. The environment of open innovation allows not only the no-fee access to the technologies but also the necessary technology expertise and advice. The FP7 funding enables this infrastructure to offer users access to technologies and the related expertise in micro and nano patterning, thin film deposition, replication and characterization. The aim is to facilitate the use of high end nano and micro technologies to enable next generation products.

EUMINAfab began services as a Technology platform – that is a group of partners which marketed the technologies in the areas of micro nano structuring, thin films, replication and characterisation.  Since the launch of user access to EUMINAfab in September 2009 more than 100 proposals have been received. The technologies in the portfolio are, especially when considered with the skills of the operators, unique capabilities within Europe.

As a Consortium it was necessary to market the facilities and indeed to show the impact and innovation relevance of the technologies. Therefor it was necessary to evaluate the User projects and map the maturity of the technologies employed.

Even though users are required to publish the results of their work it was not possible to use normal impact factors such as numbers of publications to determine the success of EUMINAfab as a ERI, since it takes many months or even longer to reach a publication. Additionally the work typically carried out in EUMINAfab is usually part of a larger project – a part solution of a future publication or patent, this increases the time need to reach publication. The aim was therefor to investigate the application relevance of the proposals received and to in turn use this to reach new user communities, and consequent to this assemble the complete value chain from material , technology task made, sub application are and main application area.

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Related papers
  1. Access to high end micro and nano technologies for Life Science applications
  2. Behind the Scenes at EUMINAfab a European Infrastructure for micro and nano fabrication and characterisation.
  3. Behind the Scenes at EUMINAfab a European Infrastructure for micro and nano fabrication and characterisation.

Presentation: Oral at Nano-Biotechnologia PL, by Susan Anson
See On-line Journal of Nano-Biotechnologia PL

Submitted: 2012-07-03 17:23
Revised:   2012-08-24 14:17
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