Category Archives: UA

3D printing of OCT probes

4 October 2018:

A new paper published in Scientific Reports demonstrates the feasibility of 3D printing of optical coherence tomography (OCT) fibre-optic probes. Lead author on the publication is CNBP’s Dr Jiawen Li (pictured).

Journal: Scientific Reports.

Publication title: Two-photon polymerisation 3D printed freeform micro-optics for optical coherence tomography fibre probes.

Authors: Jiawen Li, Peter Fejes, Dirk Lorenser, Bryden C. Quirk, Peter B. Noble, Rodney W. Kirk, Antony Orth, Fiona M. Wood, Brant C. Gibson, David D. Sampson & Robert A. McLaughlin.

Abstract: Miniaturised optical coherence tomography (OCT) fibre-optic probes have enabled high-resolution cross-sectional imaging deep within the body. However, existing OCT fibre-optic probe fabrication methods cannot generate miniaturised freeform optics, which limits our ability to fabricate probes with both complex optical function and dimensions comparable to the optical fibre diameter. Recently, major advances in two-photon direct laser writing have enabled 3D printing of arbitrary three-dimensional micro/nanostructures with a surface roughness acceptable for optical applications. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of 3D printing of OCT probes. We evaluate the capability of this method based on a series of characterisation experiments. We report fabrication of a micro-optic containing an off-axis paraboloidal total internal reflecting surface, its integration as part of a common-path OCT probe, and demonstrate proof-of-principle imaging of biological samples.

Medical applications of light and fibre optics

20 September 2018:

A class of Year 11 Physics students from Loreto College, Marryatville, South Australia were visited by CNBP researcher Dr Jiawen Li, September 20th, 2018.

During the outreach visit Dr Li spoke on the medical uses of fibre optics technology and answered questions from the class, helping shed light on the life of a scientist and explaining the wide-range of career options open to STEM students.

“I really enjoyed visiting the school and found the session an extremely rewarding experience,” said Dr Li.

“Student questions following the presentation were well thought through and hopefully I helped in some small way to encourage the girls to continue their study of physics and other STEM related subjects.”

“Higher education potentially opens up a wide range of exciting career opportunities right across the science, engineering and medical disciplines,” said Dr Li. “And it would be great to see these enthusiastic students get to University.”

Feedback from the school post-event noted that the students had found Dr Li to be a fantastic role model and that her presentation session had been particularly inspiring.

Below: Students from Loreto College at the outreach session.

Peptides as bio-inspired electronic materials

7 September 2018:

A new paper with CNBP authors Jingxian Yu, John Horsley and Andrew Abell extends fundamental knowledge of charge transfer dynamics and kinetics in peptides and also open up new avenues to design and develop functional bio-inspired electronic devices, such as on/off switches and quantum interferometers, for practical applications in molecular electronics.

Journal: Accounts of Chemical Research.

Publication title: Peptides as Bio-Inspired Electronic Materials: An Electrochemical and First-Principles Perspective.

Authors: Jingxian Yu, John R. Horsley, and Andrew D. Abell.

Abstract: Molecular electronics is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research, offering a significant extension of the capabilities of conventional silicon-based technology as well as providing a possible stand-alone alternative. Bio-inspired molecular electronics is a particularly intriguing paradigm, as charge transfer in proteins/peptides, for example, plays a critical role in the energy storage and conversion processes for all living organisms. However, the structure and conformation of even the simplest protein is extremely complex, and therefore, synthetic model peptides comprising well-defined geometry and predetermined functionality are ideal platforms to mimic nature for the elucidation of fundamental biological processes while also enhancing the design and development of single-peptide electronic components.

In this Account, we first present intramolecular electron transfer within two synthetic peptides, one with a well-defined helical conformation and the other with a random geometry, using electrochemical techniques and computational simulations. This study reveals two definitive electron transfer pathways (mechanisms), the natures of which are dependent on secondary structure. Following on from this, electron transfer within a series of well-defined helical peptides, constrained by either Huisgen cycloaddition, ring-closing metathesis, or a lactam bridge, was determined. The electrochemical results indicate that each constrained peptide, in contrast to a linear counterpart, exhibits a remarkable shift of the formal potential to the positive (>460 mV) and a significant reduction of the electron transfer rate constant (up to 15-fold), which represent two distinct electronic “on/off” states. High-level calculations demonstrate that the additional backbone rigidity provided by the side-bridge constraints leads to an increased reorganization energy barrier, which impedes the vibrational fluctuations necessary for efficient intramolecular electron transfer through the peptide backbone. Further calculations reveal a clear mechanistic transition from hopping to superexchange (tunneling) stemming from side-bridge gating. We then extended our research to fine-tuning of the electronic properties of peptides through both structural and chemical manipulation, to reveal an interplay between electron-rich side chains and backbone rigidity on electron transfer. Further to this, we explored the possibility that the side-bridge constraints present in our synthetic peptides provide an additional electronic transport pathway, which led to the discovery of two distinct forms of quantum interferometer. The effects of destructive quantum interference appear essentially through both the backbone and an alternative tunneling pathway provided by the side bridge in the constrained β-strand peptide, as evidenced by a correlation between electrochemical measurements and conductance simulations for both linear and constrained β-strand peptides. In contrast, an interplay between quantum interference effects and vibrational fluctuations is revealed in the linear and constrained 310-helical peptides.

CNBP science to Concordia College

17 August 2018:

CNBP continued its outreach interactions with Concordia College (Adelaide) with a team of Centre researchers taking their light-focused science to the school, all in support of National Science Week.

Two separate outreach sessions were undertaken by the CNBP team at the college (each session presented to approximately 75 Year 9 and Year 7 students). Researchers consisted of Pat Capon and Aimee Horsfall (Chemists), Kylie Dunning and Darren Chow (Biologists) and Akash Bachhuka (Physicist).

Demonstrations and activity included the following:

-Propylene glycol bending light
-A universal pH indicator
-Metal salts in flame
-Trans-disciplinary Biology/Chemistry/Physics in research
-The illusion of holograms
-Discussion on where a science degree can take you

“This was the key activity that Concordia College engaged with for National Science Week and it was great to see so many students interacting directly with our researchers,” said Partnerships Manager Mel Trebilcock.

“There were some great questions from the students and the CNBP team really enjoyed getting out of the laboratory and inspiring the next generation of young scientists,” she said.

Future Fellowship success for CNBP researchers

13 August 2018:

In exciting grant funding news, ARC Future Fellowships were recently awarded to the following CNBP researchers:

Prof Mark Hutchinson (CNBP Director, pictured) – University of Adelaide. Measuring pain in livestock: mechanisms, objective biomarkers and treatments.

Dr Ivan Maksymov (CNBP Researcher Fellow) – RMIT University. Nonlinear optical effects with low-power non-laser light.

Dr Steven Wiederman (CNBP Associate Investigator) – University of Adelaide. From insects to robots: how brains make predictions and ignore distractions.

The Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. Each Future Fellow recipient will receive salary and on-cost support for four years, and up to $50,000 in additional funding per year for other essential costs directly related to their project.

Congratulations to all Fellowship recipients who will now be able to further develop and advance their innovative areas of research! Further information on Fellowship projects are available from the ARC web site.

Open Day at the University of Adelaide

12 August 2018:

The CNBP team at the University of Adelaide had their light-based science, advanced new tools and innovative startup companies on show at this year’s Open Day, Sunday 12 August, 2018.

Members of the public and aspiring students had the opportunity to see ultra small 3D imaging needles from Miniprobes, the sensor from MEQ Probe that utilises spectral analysis to objectively determine the quality of meat in seconds, and chemistry demonstrations from CNBP PhD students Aimee Horsfall, Kathryn Palasis & Patrick Capon demonstrating a pH Universal Indicator.

The Open Day showcases the University’s programs, facilities, and staff, with the aim of helping those individuals who are thinking about entering higher-education study. CNBP’s efforts were focused on displaying the benefits and career opportunities possible in the biophotonics space (academically and commercially) following a strong undergraduate degree in science.

Below – Photos from the Open Day. Top photo shows a demonstration of pH levels. Bottom photo shows Prof Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director demonstrating the “MEQ Meat Probe”.

School tour of Braggs building

27 July 2018:

Year 12 chemistry/biology students from Temple Christian College were given a tour around the Braggs building and CNBP laboratories at the University of Adelaide by Centre PhD student Kathryn Palasis.

As a part of the tour students were shown the chemistry and laser laboratories and were also shown the glass and fibre fabrication facilities to aid understanding of the type of research that is undertaken by CNBP and others in the research space.

Research translation is focus of CNBP workshop

11 July 2018:

The take-home message from CNBP’s two day ‘Research Translation’ workshop, held in Adelaide, the 5th and 6th of July, was that high quality science can change people’s lives and that the research that CNBP undertakes is truly transformative with huge translation potential.

Over 75 CNBP researchers, students, partners and invited guests attended the workshop which was based at the University of Adelaide on Day One and which then moved to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institution (SAHMRI) on Day Two.

During the workshop CNBP researchers worked in small groups with senior clinicians to learn about clinical problems and discuss how their research could be translated. They also heard from several leading clinicians about what it’s like to be part of a clinical translation project.

Additional talks described clinical translation from ‘the other side’ – with technical researchers explaining the steps involved in translating a new technology, and drawing on their real-world experiences and outlining key learnings that had been made. Dr Anne Collins then brought insight from a commercial perspective, providing a detailed case study of one of Trajan Scientific and Medical’s most recent market products.

A number of CNBP researchers, from all nodes across the Centre, then presented brief updates on clinically-related projects that are currently underway. This culminated in a master-class led and coordinated by CNBP CI Nicki Packer on seeing nanoparticles at super resolution in cells.

CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson wrapped-up workshop proceedings noting that he had been highly impressed with the science and information presented and encouraged the CNBP team to keep ‘commercialisation impact’ top of mind as this was one of the Centre’s core values.

Prof Rob McLaughlin, Founder of Miniprobes and Senior CNBP Investigator, who helped host the event noted, “We’d like express our gratitude to all of the clinicians who made the workshop such a success: Jillian Clark, Rob Fitridge, Adam Wells, Phan Nguyen, Nam Nguyen, Tarik Sammour, Hidde Kroon, Sam Parvar and Nagendra Dudi-Venkata. Our thanks also to Anne Collins from Trajan Scientific and Medical, and Andrew Abell.”

Informal feedback from attendees at the event was that they had experienced a highly informative and rewarding two days of translational workshop activity.

Note – a brief visual video of the event has been produced by Dr Johan Verjans here.

Below – Dr Johan Verjans CNBP AI at SAHMRI discusses the need to work closely with clinicians to successfully translate research into the clinical environment.

Vitamin D no defence against dementia

10 July 2018:

New research from South Australian scientists has shown that vitamin D (also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin) is unlikely to protect individuals from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other brain-related disorders.

The findings, released today in the science journal ‘Nutritional Neuroscience’ reported that researchers had failed to find solid clinical evidence for vitamin D as a protective neurological agent.

“Our work counters an emerging belief held in some quarters suggesting that higher levels of vitamin D can impact positively on brain health,” says lead author Krystal Iacopetta (pictured), PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide.

“The results of our in-depth review and an analysis of all the scientific literature indicates that  there is no convincing evidence supporting vitamin D as a protective agent for the brain,” she says.

Mark Hutchinson, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) and Professor at the University of Adelaide worked with Ms Iacopetta on the research and findings.

“This outcome is important and is based on an extremely comprehensive review and analysis of current data and relevant scientific publications,” Professor Hutchinson says.

“We’ve broken a commonly held belief that vitamin D resulting from sun exposure is good for your brain.”

Interestingly, Professor Hutchinson notes that there may be evidence that UV light (sun exposure) could impact the brain beneficially, in ways other than that related to levels of vitamin D.

“There are some early studies that suggest that UV exposure could have a positive impact on some neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis,” he says. “We have presented critical evidence that UV light may impact molecular processes in the brain in a manner that has absolutely nothing to do with vitamin D.”

“We need to complete far more research in this area to fully understand what’s happening,” says Professor Hutchinson.

Read the full media release here.

Journal: Nutritional Neuroscience.

Publication title: Are the protective benefits of vitamin D in neurodegenerative disease dependent on route of administration? A systematic review.

Authors: Krystal Iacopetta, Lyndsey E. Collins-Praino, Femke T. A. Buisman-Pijlman, Jiajun Liu, Amanda D. Hutchinson & Mark R. Hutchinson.