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Novel and improved nanomaterials, chemistries and apparatus for nanobiotechnology

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Expansion of the nanoworld

A European-funded project has developed novel nanomaterials and protocols, and refined associated hardware. The new integrated systems will be applied mainly in molecular diagnostics.

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The scope of applications for nanomaterials is seemingly infinite. Involving nano-scale particles from 1–100 nm in size, the jump from micro- to nano-size is accompanied by radically different behaviour of the particles including many quantum mechanical effects. Interaction with biomaterials during catalytic activities also creates new properties that can be exploited. An EU-funded project, 'Novel and improved nanomaterials, chemistries and apparatus for nanobiotechnology' (NACBO), aimed to develop and commercialise new nanomaterials. Target industries included materials science, chemistry and support of hardware systems. The most common applications would be in molecular diagnostics in biology, health, chemistry, process engineering and environment. NACBO researchers worked with carbon, magnetite and silica constituent elements and introduced new chemical methods linked with immobilisation, activation and surface formation. The team concentrated on carbazole polymers, one application being organic photovoltaic devices. Dendrimers, so-called because they branch repetitively, also formed the basis for reliable and economic fabrication of functional nanoscale materials. Applications included quantum dots, for invisible fluorescent tagging of goods to be used in forensics for example, and modified fluorescent nucleic acids for contrast and identification. New ways of putting together novel nucleoside monomer synthons to assemble nucleic acids also came under the NACBO microscope. Nanotech has huge potential for monitoring in health diagnostics, food and general environmental quality. NACBO focused on the design and selection of ligands for nanomaterial immobilisation for detection purposes. Further to development of novel nanotech materials, NACBO tested appropriate hardware with the new nanomolecules and methods using in vitro or whole live organisms. Environmental diagnostic procedures based on biosensors, biochips and bioarrays were improved as well as imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging. NACBO has established a centre of excellence in research and development (R&D) related to specific areas of nanotechnology. The project has successfully brought together the research efforts of industries, service providers, governmental agencies and academic researchers from China, Europe, Israel and Russia.

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