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).
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.”
To learn more about DPN, its application and instrumentation platforms, please