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Magnetic Field Assisted Biomaterials Processing

Final Report Summary - NANOBIOMAG (Magnetic Field Assisted Biomaterials Processing)

The growing demands for efficient and economical production processes, and continued improvements in product quality call for permanent improvement of existing processes. The use of magnetic field based operations provides a unique additional degree of freedom to optimise such processes. The magnetic properties lead to the potential for multifaceted approaches for novel macromolecular bioprocessing such as external manipulation, self-assembly, transport, and separation.

In the last decade the application of magnetic fields emerged from separation processes in the minerals industry into a wide range of industries including water-treatment, highly selective bio-separation, hyperthermia, drug delivery and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The NANOBIOMAG project combines biotechnology with nanotechnology via the use of magnetic fields.

The overall objective of the NANOBIOMAG project was to enhance the competitiveness of the European biomaterials, pharmaceuticals and food industries by developing unique and novel materials, and related process technologies. These technologies are located at the intersection of nanomaterials, biomaterials and magnet technologies. As a first step, multifunctional 'smart' magnetic materials were fabricated, while in the second step, new processes that utilise these new materials in order to produce novel materials and products and significantly reduce the current high number of processing steps for the production of these materials were developed. Another component to this work was to explore the effects of strong magnetic fields on molecular structures with intentions to tailoring properties of complex biomolecules.

'Smart' nano- to micron-sized magnetic particles with multifunctional properties are of key importance. Their properties allow external manipulation, provide a means for self-assembly, transport and separation through a combination of magnetic and other forces. Highly selective particle coatings allow the capture of target materials out of complex environments.

Considerations of size and surface properties can lead to new breakthroughs in adsorption capacities and reduced processing time. The integration of all these properties into 'smart' and multifunctional materials together with the possibility of their scalable production lays the ground work for enabling technologies for industrial materials.

In order to benefit from this 'multifunctional magnetic materials manufacture', the development of novel processing technologies was required in the project. For the purposes of this study these processing technologies was broadly divided into two research efforts, bioseparation and biosynthesis. In the area of bioseparation, two new processes were developed. In the biosynthesis area, new knowledge was acquired on the use of the magnetic field on the molecular level to enhance and change properties.