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Posted in | Nanomaterials | Nanobusiness

Platform Allows Researchers to Accurately Detect and Measure Nanoparticles

Published on June 23, 2009 at 8:34 AM

Izon Science today launched the world's first commercial nanopore platform. The qViro and qNano instruments, used in many different research markets, allow customers to achieve the scientific evidence they require from the ability to measure individual particles down to molecular size.

Izon’s instruments use a tiny hole, called a nanopore to detect and measure particles as they pass through the hole. The Izon nanopores are made in a flexible membrane and can be opened and closed and finely tuned while in use. The use of flexible nanopores is the basis of Izon’s patents and technology.

Izon has developed these low cost, highly effective instruments and the nanopores over a 4 year period. Different researchers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nanopore research around the world, but this is the first measurement system using nanopores on the market.

The system is aimed at researchers in virology, vaccinology, gene therapy, medicine, chemistry and nanoscience. Extensive use in research markets is expected to evolve into routine high volume testing in areas such as virus detection, environmental monitoring and industrial quality assurance. The qViro and qNano instruments can be used in a wide range of research environments including laboratories, clinics and in the field.

“The launch is the culmination of a very extensive R&D programme and is a real breakthrough for our research customers. We’ve built a robust and portable device, powered through a USB port, that can detect and control single particles at the nano-scale. It’s a world first that we’re very proud of”, says Hans van der Voorn, Executive Chairman, Izon.

The first commercial releases of the qViro and qNano feature a next generation virus counter and instrument for nanoparticle analysis. The instruments allow users to very accurately determine particle concentration in tiny sample volumes of fluid. They measure electric current through the nanopore to an accuracy of 2 trillionths of an Ampere (picoAmps) and can take up to 100,000 readings a second. These advancements also allow details of nanoparticle shape to be recorded to assist with analysis and identification.

The launch function held at NZi3, the National ICT Innovation Institute based at the University of Canterbury, was attended by Minister of Research, Science and Technology Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and business, science and education leaders from around New Zealand.

Izon, formed in 2005, has 20 staff and is growing rapidly as it responds to the interest in its technology. The company sells its instrument systems and nanopores to research organisations around the world. Beta versions are in use in ten countries including Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Denmark, United Kingdom, USA and Belgium. Each instrument sale is supported by the ongoing supply of the flexible nanopores themselves, which are reusable but need to be regularly replaced.

Izon’s intensive R&D programme will continue as new potential uses for the technology are identified in different markets. The company recently received $500,000 funding to assist with the development of new technologies from TechNZ, the business investment programme of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. This will include the development of a pressurised system that will give users the ability to apply pressure as well as an electrical charge to samples to increase the capability of the technology.

Izon has a number of collaborations underway with partners around the world using its technology to break new ground. Researchers at the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease, for example, are carrying out influenza virus research, the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan is researching nanoparticle sizing and Victoria University is using it to study the viral load on coral reefs.

Izon’s strong base of local research partners includes Industrial Research Limited, the MacDiarmid Institute, the University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury, ESR, NIWA, Cawthron, Victoria University and the National Centre for Biosecurity.

“We actively support New Zealand science”, says Mr van der Voorn. “We’ve formed a number of research partnerships here as the science is of such a high standard and collectively we can build a body of knowledge in new research areas that will make a very real difference to the country.”

Izon’s international research partners include MIT, University of Queensland, National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, University of California and Oxford University.

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