Splitting Miss Young

We participate in outreach projects every time we can. And this is one of those. Nanokomik is a comic contest organized by the research centers CIC nanoGUNE and the Donostia International Phyisics Center (DIPC). Last year’s challenge was to create a graphic story about a female or male comic superhero with “nanopowers”, that is, sophisticated skills or powers acquired through nanoscience and nanotechnology.

 

We created Miss Young, a superhero with the ability of been everywhere at the same time when nobody is observing her.

We didn’t win the contest but it certainly was a great experience to make our first comic in a traditional way.

Send the scouts!!!

Cells are able to perceive their surroundings by detecting forces. Interactions between cells and their ligands is essential to sustain the tissues functionalities, and detection of changes in the cell environment is of key importance to tissue growth, which includes embryogenesis or tumor proliferation. Cells are able to detect the position of molecules in their environment with nanometric precision and through forces, they are able to perceive their surroundings.

This work published in Nature has been directed by professor Pere Roca Cusachs (Universidad de Barcelona and Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña).

 

To illustrate their research, we designed this picture with the help of Roger Oria.

Packing with hydrogels

Do you need to structure your macromolecules in your water solution? Now it is possible. By forming the low-molecular-weight hydrogel throughout all phases of all-aqueous emulsions, distinct, micro-compartmentalized materials were created. This structuring approach offers control over the composition of each type of the compartments by directing the partitioning of objects to be encapsulated.

We created this cover for Department of Chemical Engineering at TU Delft, with the help of Serhii Mytnyk.

Targeted Delivery

The delivery of therapeutics through the skin (topical administration) has an important advantage: it allows a targeted delivery. The problem is that only light lipophilic molecules can easily cross the outermost layer of the epidermis. This happens to be amazingly difficult for proteins: one of the reasons being their exterior is usually pretty hydrophilic.

Prof. Marcelo Calderón and co-workers (Freie Universität Berlin and University of Potsdam) have presented a method which solves this problem using nanocarrier systems. They’ve synthesized thermoresponsive nanogels which they’ve used to encapsulate the anti-TNFα fusion protein etanercept. This happens to be a pretty big protein used for the treatment of psoriasis and arthritis. Importantly, the encapsulation process, does not change its structure. Now, the protein, encapsulated in the nanogel, crosses the barrier effectively delivering the treatment.

They’ve reported their findings in Threranostics and their research made it to its cover.

We designed the picture under the close supervision of Prof. Sarah Hedtrich and Prof. Marcelo Calderón.

Amino acids in your fingerprints!

Fingermark evidence has been, and still is, extensively used in criminal investigations. But it is not about its shape and marks anymore. Chemistry and biology joined the game. At Prof. Marcel de Puit lab (Netherlands Forensic Institute), they are studying amino acid profiles obtained from fingerprints. They have come up with a method for the separation and quantification of amino acids from fingerprint.

With the help of Ward van Helmond, first author of the article, we designed this image, that made it to the cover of Analytical Methods.

Excitons in Graphene

Today, in “is there something graphene is not capable of“, excitons in graphene. The team lead by professor Paul McEuen (at Cornell University) is studying the optical properties of single-atom-thick layers of graphene. And they have just reported the observation of excitons in a graphene bylayer. These electrically neutral quasiparticles, make graphene of possible interest in the development of optoelectronic devices.

Closely directed by Long Ju, co-lead author of the paper, we made this image to illustrate this finding.

Uni Nova research magazine

Uni Nova is the research magazine of the University of Basel. Together with the head of communications of the university, Reto Caluori, we made a few images that happened to be published in Uni Nova’s November issue. In particular in articles about quantum sensors, the use of silicon for quantum computing and Qubits.

 

At Basel University, they are not only making high quality research. They are also succeeding at communicating it. And they also happen to be amazingly charming people. So much, that they sent a paper copy of the magazine.

How cool is to have it in physical format.

200 Projects, 5 Years and 1Tb

I don’t celebrate anniversaries for one simple reason: I don’t want to jinx it. But several facts of some significance have happened altogether. We’ve reached our fifth year, made it to 200 projects and we’ve filled our first 1Tb hard drive… so I thought it would be nice to say thanks to all our clients. So there you have it.

News on Parkinson

It is reassuring to know that there are people working so we don’t have smallpox or polio. At Rosario Moratalla’s lab they are trying to crack Parkinson’s disease. In one of their latter works, directed by Dr. Patricia García-Sanz and Prof. Rosario Moratalla, they explore how certain mutations in the GBA1 gene, increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Actually they show a possible connection between the loss of β-glucocerebrosidase-1 function, cholesterol accumulation, and the disruption of cellular homeostasis in GBA1-PD. This work has appeared in the cover of Movement Disorders Journal.

We made this picture showing the effect of the mutation with the close supervision of Dr. Patricia García-Sanz.

Mapping stress at the nanoscale

Stress is the main cause of failure in mechanical and electronic devices incorporating thin films. At the same time, our knowledge of stress at the nanoscale, happens to be very limited and one of the reasons is that we have no access to the measurement of stress at this tiny scale.

And this is what Celia Polop, Enrique Vasco, Alma P. Perrino and Ricardo García (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Material Science Institute of Madrid-CSIC) have solved. They’ve just presented a novel method to map stress on surfaces with a sub 10nm resolution. This method, supported by finite element simulations, has allowed them to map stress on polycrystalline gold films.

We made this image (featured in Nanoscale) illustrating their work, strongly supported by Enrique Vasco and Celia Polop.