Paints, surfaces, cells and particle interactions

From characterising engineered surface materials, biomaterials or crystals, to delivering particles to cells, to paint on the walls, the MCFP can lend expertise to your R&D.

First published: 23/07/2014

Updated at: 30/06/2014 at 4:53 pm

Paints, surfaces, cells and particle interactions

If you need to explore the properties of just about any given material, the Materials Characterisation and Fabrication Platform (MCFP) at The University of Melbourne has the capabilities to help you.

From characterising engineered surface materials, biomaterials or crystals, to delivering particles to cells, to paint on the walls, the MCFP is able to work with both industry and academic researchers.

“Some of our customers researching drug delivery applications use our super-resolution fluorescence imaging to track the internalisation of particles inside cells,” said Platform Technical Support Co-ordinator, Dr Lauren Hyde.

“The structured illumination Deltavision OMX V4 Blaze microscope, with its three cameras and resolution down to 100nm can image nanoparticles inside cells in 3D, to see how particles interact with cells,” she said.

“By staining parts of the cell, such as the membrane, nucleus, and the particles themselves, super-resolution images will show not only the particles inside, but also any clustering or relocation of the particles as they occur, at a resolution far greater than ever before.”

As well as investigating how materials interact with biological systems, the MCFP helps researchers make and characterise many new and existing materials.

The capabilities can be applied to a vast number of materials including biomaterials, colloids, minerals, algae, nanoparticles, crystals and polymer shells, materials used in the food industry, paint  and cancer therapies.

For industry in particular, the Platform can investigate or characterise; surfaces and interfaces, surface roughness, material properties, particle internalisation for drug delivery, biological interactions of materials, emulsion formulation in food and personal care products, and imaging of materials or biological systems in high-resolution.

Technical Support Co-ordinator of the Platform, Dr Lauren Hyde is enthusiastic about her role to promote the platform’s capabilities to industry and the broader research community.

“The platform support officers have the technical capabilities and expertise to service, maintain and operate each instrument, which cuts costs for anyone needing access to equipment such as this, without having to purchase it themselves.”

The MCFP is an amalgamation of four nodes; nanomaterials characterisation, advanced fluorescence imaging, X-Ray diffraction (XRD) and nanofabrication.

The nanomaterials characterisation platform focuses on the characterisation of materials at the nanoscale, whether it be the surface topography, roughness, elasticity of a material or the investigation of how particles interact with a surface.

“Our seven Atomic Force Microscopes are diversified for different uses – biological (in a PC2 environment), some are on inverted microscopes, and others are set up for single molecule imaging. We also have what is currently the highest-resolution AFM, able to resolve features down to less than 1 nm.”

The X-Ray diffraction node helps researchers discover information on the crystal structure of their material and is used widely for soil and geopolymer (or green concrete) analysis.

“The Advanced Fluorescence Imaging platform focuses on the interaction of materials with biological systems. In addition to the OMX Structured Illumination Microscope, the Nikon N-STORM with its 20 nanometre resolution is used for anything from characterising particles to investigating the porous structure of a hydrogel materials for 3D tissue engineering applications.”

Additionally, the imaging flow cytometer, which is an amalgamation of a traditional flow cytometer and a fluorescence microscope, can image 100 cells per second, obtaining quantified data as well as optical and fluorescence images of every cell that lead to the quantified results. The Amnis Imagestream can be used for many applications including to check cell uptake of nanoparticles, and hence is quite complementary to the super-resolution capabilities.

“We have a collaborative approach to research and infrastructure and our technical experts are here to support the researchers from conception of an idea through to publication. The equipment is accessible to all researchers, not just those on campus.

“The Platform Support Officers are uniquely able to operate the instruments for the researcher, as well as supporting and training them to use the equipment themselves.

For more information contact Dr Lauren Hyde, Materials Characterisation and Fabrication Platform Technical Support Co-ordinator, (03) 8344 0176.

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