Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe Takes Delivery of NLP 2000 Nanofabrication Platform from Nanoink

Published on September 8, 2009 at 6:18 AM

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 visit

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