Category Archives: RMIT

Science on show – what’s on in National Science Week

7 August 2019:

The CNBP and its researchers are taking part in a wide range of activities for National Science Week.

This Thursday 8 August researcher Dr Wei Deng from UNSW Sydney will explain how nanotechnogy is changing how we treat cancer, as part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series.

It will be held at the Max Webber Library, in Blacktown, Sydney. More details here.

On Sunday, 11 August, Adelaide University’s Lyndsey Collins-Praino will host Kids Navigate Neuroscience, an event at which children aged 4-10 can explore how the brain works in a fun and hands-on way by participating in a series of interactive neuroscience exhibits.

You can find out more about the event here. Bookings are essential and can be made through Eventbrite.

On Tuesday 13 August explore medical brain research by joining Dr Lindsay Parker, a researcher at Macquarie University, as she discusses how she is trying to create better medicines for Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and brain cancer, by only targeting the unhealthy cells in the brain.

This event is part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series as part of National Science Week. Bookings available now. Contact details:
Castle Hill Library
The Hills Shire Library Service
Email: libraryseminars@thehills.nsw.gov.au
Phone: 02 9761 4510
https://www.scienceweek.net.au/exploring-medical-brain-research/

There is a fun evening next Friday, 16 August, at the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, where you can explore the neuroscience of sex, drugs and salsa dancing.

A series of interactive exhibits will address questions such as, what role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?

More details here and bookings are through Eventbrite.

Also next Friday, 16 August, the whole family is invited to see some amazing short videos on a massive screen in a free National Science Week Event hosted by STEMSEL Foundation Braggs Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide AI Light Science Spectacular.

You will find out how the eye works, how NASA finds planets in other solar systems and how detected the edge of the Universe.

You will also explore light, from nanoscale biophotonics with CNBP research fellow Dr Roman Kostecki to exploring the Universe with Dr Jerry Madakbas, a photonics physicist who builds night vision sensors for NASA.

You can book through Eventbrite.

Also on Friday night:

What role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?

These days, you can’t seem to walk through the aisle of a grocery store without being bombarded by newspaper and magazine headlines touting the latest and greatest breakthrough in neuroscience research. But how can you tell fact from fiction?

Join us for this Big Science Adelaide event, held at the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) building at the University of Adelaide, where we’ll explore the answers to these questions and many more!

More details at https://www.scienceweek.net.au/neuroscience-at-night/ 
Finally, CNBP researchers will be taking part in Science in the Swamp, a fun, free family festival of science displays, shows and activities on Sunday 18 August in Centennial Park, Sydney.

Join scientists as they show what amazing superpowers you find in nature – super sight, super hearing, super strength and camouflage are only some of the capabilities on show.

Be sure to put on your cape and dress up as your favourite superhero for this great event. You can find out more details here.

Shedding light on nanoparticles for better bio-imaging

25 July 2019:

CNBP researcher Dr Nafisa Zohora has been awarded her PhD in applied physics by Melbourne’s RMIT University. Her research project looked at materials that could be used as an alternative to available fluorophores – the fluorescent chemical compounds used in a variety of biological research projects.

The discoveries of the project solves a significant problem that was stopping scientists obtaining good images of biological samples.

Fluorophores are used to stain specific cells, for example, which are then observed and analysed by a fluorescence microscope. They are used as biomarkers to identify a range of bioactive molecules such as antibodies or proteins.

But for the fluorophores to re-emit light, they must first absorb it in a process known as “excitation” – usually brought about with a laser.

The problem is, though, that some compounds just do not absorb enough with low power excitation to produce enough fluorescence to be seen under the microscope. But higher power, from greater exposure to a laser for example, can also generate so much heat that the sample is destroyed.

The fluorophores are also inclined to lose their ability to emit within a few seconds with repeated exposure to the laser, not giving enough time to take a good image.

Nafisa set out to find a solution to both these issues. She began by studying the commercially available nanoparticle fluorophores such as cuprous oxide (Cu2O), titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) but couldn’t find the properties she was looking for.

She then decided to synthesise her own nanoparticles.

After two years of hard work, she had successfully developed a methodology to synthesis Cu2O nanocubes that become very bright with a very low power excitation.

What’s more they are photostable for several hours under repeated exposure to a laser – so both problems solved!

In a follow-up collaboration with the University of Adelaide, Nafisa tested the nanoparticles for their toxicity to cells, giving them a clean bill.

Her work uncovering the exceptional properties of the synthesised Cu2O nanoparticles opens up new possible applications in detecting antigens and other long-term bio-imaging applications.

Nafisa’s supervisors were Professor Brant Gibson (Physics, RMIT University), Dr Ahmad Kandjani (Chemistry, RMIT University) and Professor Mark Hutchinson (The University of Adelaide). She completed her PhD on 1 July 2019, and her graduation ceremony will be in December.

CNBP research wins Young Scientist Award

18 July 2019:

CNBP research fellow Dr Lindsay Parker, of Macquarie University, has won an award for the best research paper from an investigator under 40, at an international conference in Rome.

Lindsay’s work is aimed at better understanding molecules ex-pressed in the brain during pain, brain diseases and brain cancer. This could lead to improved precision drugs that specifically target only the unhealthy cells in the brain.

She won a “Young Scientist Award” at the 41st PIERS (Photonics & Electromagnetics Research Symposium) held at the University of Rome in June.

Her paper, “Utilising Glycobiology for Fluorescent Nanodiamond Uptake and Imaging in the Central Nervous System” was in the category “Remote Sensing, Inverse Problems, Imaging, Radar & Sensing”.

The paper, in collaboration with RMIT University and the University of Colorado Boulder, investigated the ability of lectin-coated fluorescent nanodiamonds to recognise specific central nervous system cell types.

The prize included cash, and an invitation to the Symposium Banquet held at Palazzo Brancaccio. Lindsay also received travel awards from MQ University Primary Carer Support for Conference Attendance ($2000) and MQ Research Centre for Diamond Science and Technology ($1000) which meant her partner and baby William were also able to be in Rome with her as she worked.

While she was in Europe, Lindsay took the opportunity to give invited talks at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and at the University of Groningen in Netherlands while visiting two other labs working in similar research areas to her synthetic nanochemistry expert Dr Petr Cigler and nanobiotechnology expert A/Prof Romana Schirhagl.

Diamonds improve orthopaedic implants

17 July 2019:

3D printing of titanium has made patient-specific orthopaedic implants possible, promising to dramatically improve many people’s quality of life.

But, despite the huge potential, there are still significant problems to overcome, particularly in how the implants integrate with human tissue and bone.

Associate Professor Kate Fox from RMIT University in Melbourne, an Associate Investigator with the CNBP, led the team which, in a previous study, showed that a thin film coating of diamond could provide a better surface for cells to interact.

A new paper, Engineering the Interface: Nanodiamond Coating on 3D-Printed Titanium Promotes Mammalian Cell Growth and Inhibits Staphylococcus aureus Colonization expands on that work.

It describes how applying a nanodiamond (ND) coating on to the 3D printed titanium increased the cell density of both skin bone cells after three days of growth compared to the uncoated 3D printed titanium.

The study also showed an 88% reduction of Staphylococcus aureus – or Golden Staph – adherence to ND-coated substrates compared to those without.

This study, whose lead author is Aaquil Rifai, from RMIT, paves a way to create antifouling structures for biomedical implants.

You can read the paper here.

Journal: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

Publication Title:  Engineering the Interface: Nanodiamond Coating on 3D-Printed Titanium Promotes Mammalian Cell Growth and Inhibits Staphylococcus aureus Colonization

Authors: Aaqil Rifai*, Nhiem Tran, Philipp Reineck, Aaron Elbourne, Edwin Mayes, Avik Sarker, Chaitali Dekiwadia, Elena P. Ivanova, Russell J. Crawford, Takeshi Ohshima, Brant C. Gibsonm, Andrew D. Greentree, Elena Pirogova, and Kate Fox*

Abstract:  Additively manufactured selective laser melted titanium (SLM-Ti) opens the possibility of tailored medical implants for patients. Despite orthopedic implant advancements, significant problems remain with regard to suboptimal osseointegration at the interface between the implant and the surrounding tissue. Here, we show that applying a nanodiamond (ND) coating onto SLM-Ti scaffolds provides an improved surface for mammalian cell growth while inhibiting colonization of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Owing to the simplicity of our methodology, the approach is suitable for coating SLM-Ti geometries. The ND coating achieved 32 and 29% increases in cell density of human dermal fibroblasts and osteoblasts, respectively, after 3 days of incubation compared with the uncoated SLM-Ti substratum. This increase in cell density complements an 88% reduction in S. aureus detected on the ND-coated SLM-Ti substrata. This study paves a way to create facile antifouling SLM-Ti structures for biomedical implants.

Key Words: nanodiamond, antifouling, 3D printing, biomaterial, implants

Nanodiamonds are a wound’s best friend

2 July 2019, By Amanda Abraham.

Band-aids and bandages are remarkable. A simple invention allows us to cover, treat and protect injuries until they have time to heal. But they come with a big drawback – the only way we can check how well the wound is healing, is by removing them.

This means that sometimes infections are detected only after they take hold, which can lead to increased recovery times and the need for additional medications and care.
Now imagine a technology that enables us to track the healing process without needing to remove the bandage.

This technology is being worked on by a group of CNBP researchers based at RMIT University who presented their research at a Physics in the Pub event held in Hawthorn last week.

The CNBP team in action at Physics in the Pub. The costume is a finger!

The team explained that by using nanodiamonds in a ‘smart dressing’, researchers are able to detect temperature changes within or surrounding a wound – a common indication of infection – without removing the bandage.

This would give doctors and nurses the ability to track the healing progress without having to remove and re-apply the dressing.

Dr Amanda Abraham, who presented alongside Qiang Sun, Daniel Stavrevski and Donbi Bai, explained that the topic was chosen because “almost everyone has experienced the pain of band-aid removal. Using nanodiamonds could save the patient further discomfort, and speed up the healing process by providing treatment only when needed.”

Physics in the Pub is an informal, light-hearted night where physicists, astronomers, theoreticians, engineers and educators share their love of science over a refreshing beverage. The event is supported by the AIP, and ARC Centres of Excellence CNBP, OzGrav, FLEET and Exciton Science.

In-body fibre optic imaging to go 3D

26 April 2019:

An advanced new method has been developed by CNBP researchers that may open the door to 3D microscopy in hard-to-reach areas of the human body.

It sees the successful miniaturization of a 3D imaging technique called ‘light field imaging’, taken to extreme new levels, making in-body application possible.

It could find significant application in diagnostic procedures called optical biopsies, where suspicious tissue is investigated during medical endoscopic procedures.

Reported in the journal ‘Science Advances’, project lead of the innovative imaging approach is Dr Antony Orth, Research Fellow at the RMIT University node of the CNBP (pictured).

The paper can be accessed below or read the media release here.

Journal: Science Advances.

Publication title: Optical fiber bundles: Ultra-slim light field imaging probes.

Authors: A. Orth, M. Ploschner, E. R. Wilson, I.S. Maksymov and B. C. Gibson.

Abstract: Optical fiber bundle microendoscopes are widely used for visualizing hard-to-reach areas of the human body. These ultrathin devices often forgo tunable focusing optics because of size constraints and are therefore limited to two-dimensional (2D) imaging modalities. Ideally, microendoscopes would record 3D information for accurate clinical and biological interpretation, without bulky optomechanical parts. Here, we demonstrate that the optical fiber bundles commonly used in microendoscopy are inherently sensitive to depth information. We use the mode structure within fiber bundle cores to extract the spatio-angular description of captured light rays—the light field—enabling digital refocusing, stereo visualization, and surface and depth mapping of microscopic scenes at the distal fiber tip. Our work opens a route for minimally invasive clinical microendoscopy using standard bare fiber bundle probes. Unlike coherent 3D multimode fiber imaging techniques, our incoherent approach is single shot and resilient to fiber bending, making it attractive for clinical adoption.

Below – Modal structure in optical fiber bundles captures light field information. Credit Antony Orth, RMIT University.

Liquid-metal nanoparticles focus UV light

29 March 2019:

Liquid-metal nanoparticles can focus ultraviolet light at the nanoscale. Read more in a publication reporting on the UV plasmonic properties of colloidal gallium-indium particles (lead author CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Philipp Reineck, RMIT University).

Journal: Scientific Reports.

Publication title: UV plasmonic properties of colloidal liquid-metal eutectic gallium-indium alloy nanoparticles.

Authors: Philipp Reineck, Yiliang Lin, Brant C. Gibson, Michael D. Dickey, Andrew D. Greentree, Ivan S. Maksymov.

Abstract: Nanoparticles made of non-noble metals such as gallium have recently attracted significant attention due to promising applications in UV plasmonics. to date, experiments have mostly focused on solid and liquid pure gallium particles immobilized on solid substrates. However, for many applications, colloidal liquid-metal nanoparticle solutions are vital. Here, we experimentally demonstrate strong UV plasmonic resonances of eutectic gallium-indium (eGaIn) liquid-metal alloy nanoparticles suspended in ethanol. We rationalise experimental results through a theoretical model based on Mie theory. our results contribute to the understanding of UV plasmon resonances in colloidal liquid-metal eGaIn nanoparticle suspensions. they will also enable further research into emerging applications of UV plasmonics in biomedical imaging, sensing, stretchable electronics, photoacoustics, and electrochemistry.

ECR Award goes to Dr Philipp Reineck

14 February 2019:

Congratulations to CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Philipp Reineck (RMIT VC Research Fellow), who has been awarded an RMIT University School of Science ‘Early Career Researcher Award’ for his outstanding research outputs and achievements in 2018.

Recognized was Philipp’s publication output. This included ten papers (with three  officially published in 2019). Also his four invited talks given at international conferences in the USA, Europe and Australia, together with his successful funding from the Australian Synchrotron to do 3D bioimaging experiments at the Spanish synchrotron.

A fantastic effort Philipp!

Below – Dr Philipp Reineck receiving his award.

 

Fraunhofer IAF visit

29 January 2019:

CNBP PhD student, Marco Capelli (RMIT) has recently undertaken a three month residency at the Fraunhofer IAF (Institute for Applied Solid State Physics) in Freiburg, Germany.  He reports on his work and collaborative activity there, focused on furthering the measurement of magnetic fields with diamond crystals.

During the months from October to December I worked with the group of Diamond Magnetometry at the Fraunhofer IAF (Institute for Applied Solid State Physics) in Freiburg, Germany.

The group leader Dr. Jan Jeske already collaborated with the CNBP in the past. His group is developing a new technique, building a laser from the fluorescence of diamond and using the enhanced signal to develop a more compact and less expensive diamond device able to perform magnetoencephalography (MEG) with high resolution and sensitivity.

At the Fraunhofer IAF I worked on our common goal of pushing further the ability of measuring magnetic fields with diamond crystals. It was a full collaborative work that put together my knowledge about magnetometry, helping optimising their existing setups and experimental procedures, with their ability to grow diamond samples with specific and tailored characteristics, searching for the best diamond to use.

I was able to compare the sample I previously used in my studies with their diamond samples and study how they differ and which are the best suited for magnetometry. This comparison is still at the beginning and our groups will further collaborate in the near future to get a full understanding of the diamond material.

The work helped me learn and better understand how diamonds can be created, how much they can be ‘customised’ and which parameters to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate diamond to use in my experiments. The students and researchers I met were keen to share their expertise and show me their advanced facilities to grow diamond. In addition it was a great learning experience to work at the institute itself. As the institute is more focused with practical applications and connecting with industry, it was personally interesting to see the differing kinds of management and organisational structures in place there.

Below: Marco (third left) with the  Diamond Magnetometry team.

Not all fluorescent nanodiamonds are created equal

28 January 2019:

Hundreds of individual tiny fluorescent diamond particles have been imaged and characterized by CNBP researchers, reported in the journal ‘Particle & Particle Systems Characterization’.

Fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) are vital to many emerging nanotechnological applications, from bioimaging and sensing to quantum nanophotonics.

The study identifies opportunities to improve the properties of single fluorescent nanodiamonds, to develop a better understanding of their underlying physical mechanisms and to advance current nanofabrication technologies.

Lead author on the paper is CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Philipp Reineck at RMIT University.

Journal: Particle & Particle Systems Characterization.

Publication title:  Not All Fluorescent Nanodiamonds Are Created Equal: A Comparative Study.

Authors: Philipp Reineck; Leevan Fremiot Trindade, Jan Havlik, Jan Stursa, Ashleigh Heffernan, Aaron Elbourne, Antony Orth, Marco Capelli, Petr Cigler, David A. Simpson, Brant C. Gibson.

Abstract: Fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) are vital to many emerging nanotechnological applications, from bioimaging and sensing to quantum nanophotonics. Yet, understanding and engineering the properties of fluorescent defects in nanodiamonds remain challenging. The most comprehensive study to date is presented, of the optical and physical properties of five different nanodiamond samples, in which fluorescent nitrogen‐vacancy (NV) centers are created using different fabrication techniques. The FNDs’ fluorescence spectra, lifetime, and spin relaxation time (T1) are investigated via single‐particle confocal fluorescence microscopy and in ensemble measurements in solution (T1 excepted). Particle sizes and shapes are determined using scanning electron microscopy and correlated with the optical results. Statistical tests are used to explore correlations between the properties of individual particles and also analyze average results to directly compare different fabrication techniques. Spectral unmixing is used to quantify the relative NV charge‐state (NV− and NV0) contributions to the overall fluorescence. A strong variation is found and quantified in the properties of individual particles within all analyzed samples and significant differences between the different particle types. This study is an important contribution toward understanding the properties of NV centers in nanodiamonds. It motivates new approaches to the improved engineering of NV‐containing nanodiamonds for future applications.