Outreach at Fresh Science

8 November 2017:

The world’s smallest fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously see and sense deeply inside the body (Dr Jiawen Li) and an anti-cancer drug that can be switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ inside the body to help reduce chemotherapy side effects (PhD student Kathryn Palasis). These were the research narratives developed by the two CNBP scientists who attended the ‘Fresh Science’ outreach training program on the 7th-8th November in Adelaide, South Australia.

“I had a great time participating in Fresh Science,” said Kathryn Palasis.

“We had a full day of media training which included practise interviews with journalists from TV, radio and print, who taught us how to best explain our science to the general public. We then had the opportunity to present our work to some very eager and inquisitive school students, and later had to summarise our research to a crowd at the pub in the time it took for a sparkler to burn out! It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun – plus I got to meet some really cool local researchers who are all doing exciting work.”

Dr Jiawen Li also enjoyed the experience. “What I got from the program was the ability to promote my science to the media, knowledge on how to be noticed by journalists and the experience of being interviewed, as well as broader presentation skills aimed at communicating complicated science concepts to a general audience. The two days were extremely rewarding!”

Fresh Science (run by Science in Public) is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, with a day of media training and a public outreach event in their home state.

Below – Fresh Science participants. Kathryn Palasis fourth from left. Dr Jiawen Li fourth from right. Photo credit: Fresh Science/Science in Public.


A new heuristic search strategy to accelerate imaging

7 November 2017:

CNBP researchers Dr Daniel Drumm (lead author pictured) and Prof Andrew Greentree, both at RMIT University, have analysed microscopy in the contexts of Rényi-Ulam games and half-lies, developing a new family of heuristics. Their research is reported in the journal ‘Scientific Reports.’

Journal: Scientific Reports.

Publication titleMicroscopy as a statistical, Rényi-Ulam, half-lie game: a new heuristic search strategy to accelerate imaging.

Authors: Daniel W. Drumm & Andrew D. Greentree.

Abstract: Finding a fluorescent target in a biological environment is a common and pressing microscopy problem. This task is formally analogous to the canonical search problem. In ideal (noise-free, truthful) search problems, the well-known binary search is optimal. The case of half-lies, where one of two responses to a search query may be deceptive, introduces a richer, Rényi-Ulam problem and is particularly relevant to practical microscopy. We analyse microscopy in the contexts of Rényi-Ulam games and half-lies, developing a new family of heuristics. We show the cost of insisting on verification by positive result in search algorithms; for the zero-half-lie case bisectioning with verification incurs a 50% penalty in the average number of queries required. The optimal partitioning of search spaces directly following verification in the presence of random half-lies is determined. Trisectioning with verification is shown to be the most efficient heuristic of the family in a majority of cases.

Cytokine detection

6 November 2017:

New research from CNBP scientists reports on a cytokine sensor – fabricated on the surface of an optical fibre. Cytokines are molecules that play a critical role in cellular response to infection, inflammation, trauma and disease. Lead author on the paper, published in the journal ‘Biosensors and Bioelectronics’, is Centre PhD student Kaixin Zhang who is based at Macquarie University.

Journal: Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

Publication title: Robust immunosensing system based on biotinstreptavidin coupling for spatially localized femtogram mL−1 level detection of interleukin-6.

Authors: Kaixin Zhang, Guozhen Liu, Ewa M. Goldys.

Abstract: Detection of a very low amount of cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) in clinical fluids is important in biomedical research and clinical applications. Here, we demonstrate spatially-localised ultrasensitive (femtogram mL−1) level detection of IL-6 in serum and in cell culture media. Our approach is based on a sandwich immunosensor fabricated on the surface of an optical fibre. Firstly, the biotinylated IL-6 capture antibody was immobilized on the fibre surface by biotin-streptavidin coupling. Then the fabricated fibre was used for capturing IL-6 followed by exposure to detection antibody which was labeled with the fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles to report the signal. A linear relationship between IL-6 concentration and the fluorescence signal was obtained in the range from 0.4 pg mL−1 to 400 pg mL−1 of IL-6, with the limit of detection down to 0.1 pg mL−1. In addition, this optical fibre sensor was successfully applied for the localized detection of IL-6 with the spatial resolution of 200 µm and a sample volume of 1 μL. Finally, the performance of the fibre sensor was demonstrated by detection of IL-6 secreted by BV-2 cells with comparable performance of the conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Concordia College students visit CNBP

6 November 2017:

Thirty-one Year 11 students from Concordia College visited CNBP headquarters at the University of Adelaide, 6th November 2017, further strengthening outreach engagement and linkages between the school and Centre researchers.

The students, part of the  International Baccalaureate Science program, enjoyed presentations from CNBP researchers, participated in a Q&A regarding CNBP science, and undertook lab tours with Dr Jiawen Li who did a show and tell with Miniprobes technology. Students were then able to get hands-on with the mini-probe, experimenting with its capabilities on pieces of fruit which mimicked potential use on the human body.

As part of the outreach session – CNBP’s Dr Kyle Dunning talked about her research and its focus on reproductive health, Patrick Capon and Aimee Horsfall presented chemistry and its use in CNBP sensing technology and Dr Georgios Tsiminis  talked about his own physics journey and the sensing work that he is now working on in the meat and dairy space.

Feedback from Joanne Rogers, Head of Science at Concordia College, noted that she thought this outreach session was, “The best yet with CNBP.”

Below – photos from the visit.


Surface chemistry and nanodiamond fluorescence

31 October 2017:

Surface chemistry is vital for nanodiamond fluorescence, reports a new paper published by CNBP researchers (lead author Dr Philipp Reineck pictured). The paper was published in the journal ‘ACS Nano’ and is available online.

Journal: ACS Nano.

Publication title: Effect of Surface Chemistry on the Fluorescence of Detonation Nanodiamonds.

Authors: Philipp Reineck, Desmond W. M. Lau, Emma R. Wilson, Kate Fox, Matthew R. Field, Cholaphan Deeleepojananan, Vadym N. Mochalin, and Brant C. Gibson.

Abstract: Detonation nanodiamonds (DNDs) have unique physical and chemical properties that make them invaluable in many applications. However, DNDs are generally assumed to show weak fluorescence, if any, unless chemically modified with organic molecules. We demonstrate that detonation nanodiamonds exhibit significant and excitation-wavelength-dependent fluorescence from the visible to the near-infrared spectral region above 800 nm, even without the engraftment of organic molecules to their surfaces. We show that this fluorescence depends on the surface functionality of the DND particles. The investigated functionalized DNDs, produced from the same purified DND as well as the as-received polyfunctional starting material, are hydrogen, hydroxyl, carboxyl, ethylenediamine, and octadecylamine-terminated. All DNDs are investigated in solution and on a silicon wafer substrate and compared to fluorescent high-pressure high-temperature nanodiamonds. The brightest fluorescence is observed from octadecylamine-functionalized particles and is more than 100 times brighter than the least fluorescent particles, carboxylated DNDs. The majority of photons emitted by all particle types likely originates from non-diamond carbon. However, we locally find bright and photostable fluorescence from nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond in hydrogenated, hydroxylated, and carboxylated detonation nanodiamonds. Our results contribute to understanding the effects of surface chemistry on the fluorescence of DNDs and enable the exploration of the fluorescent properties of DNDs for applications in theranostics as nontoxic fluorescent labels, sensors, nanoscale tracers, and many others where chemically stable and brightly fluorescent nanoparticles with tailorable surface chemistry are needed.

New microfluidic needle-like device developed

31 October:

A new paper from CNBP researchers (lead author Shilun Feng pictured) reports on the development of a microfluidic needle-like device that can extract and deliver nanoliter samples.

The paper, published in ‘Applied Physics Letters’ is accessible online.

Journal: Applied Physics Letters.

Publication title: A microfluidic needle for sampling and delivery of chemical signals by segmented flows.

Authors: Shilun Feng, Guozhen Liu, Lianmei Jiang, Yonggang Zhu, Ewa M. Goldys, and David W. Inglis.

Abstract: We have developed a microfluidic needle-like device that can extract and deliver nanoliter samples. The device consists of a T-junction to form segmented flows, parallel channels to and from the needle tip, and seven hydrophilic capillaries at the tip that form a phase-extraction region. The main microchannel is hydrophobic and carries segmented flows of water-in-oil. The hydrophilic capillaries transport the aqueous phase with a nearly zero pressure gradient but require a pressure gradient of 19 kPa for mineral oil to invade and flow through. Using this device, we demonstrate the delivery of nanoliter droplets and demonstrate sampling through the formation of droplets at the tip of our device. During sampling, we recorded the fluorescence intensities of the droplets formed at the tip while varying the concentration of dye outside the tip. We measured a chemical signal response time of approximately 3 s. The linear relationship between the recorded fluorescence intensity of samples and the external dye concentration (10–40 μg/ml) indicates that this device is capable of performing quantitative, real-time measurements of rapidly varying chemical signals.


CNBP researchers edit new book

30 October 2017:

A new book edited by A/Prof Anwar Sunna (CNBP Associate Investigator), Dr Andrew Care (CNBP Research Fellow) and Peter Bergquist (Macquarie University) as been published by Springer.

The book, “Peptides and Peptide-based Biomaterials and their Biomedical Applications”, highlights new developments in the applications of peptide and peptide-based biomaterials in biomedicine.

“This is a fast-moving and rapidly expanding research area, which promises to be one of the most significant fields of research in applied biomedicine”, says A/Prof Sunna.

“The work introduces readers to direct applications and translational research at the interface between materials science, protein chemistry and biomedicine.”

CI joins ARC College of Experts

27 October 2017:

Professor Andrew Greentree, CNBP Chief Investigator from RMIT University has been announced as a member of the prestigious ARC College of Experts.

Members of the College of Experts assess and rank ARC grant applications submitted under the National Competitive Grants Program, make funding recommendations to the ARC and provide strategic advice to the ARC on emerging disciplines and cross-disciplinary developments.

Membership of the College is limited to experts of international standing drawn from the Australian research community.

Further information on this key ARC committee and its contribution to national innovation is available online.


Quantifying nanoparticles in colloidal suspension

26 October 2017:

A new paper featuring CNBP researchers (lead author Sandhya Clement pictured top left), demonstrates a simple, non-destructive method suitable for rapid evaluation of nanoparticles in colloidal suspension.

The paper, published in Nanotechnology is accessible online.

Journal: Nanotechnology.

Publication title: Quantification of nanoparticle concentration in colloidal suspensions by a non-destructive optical method.

Authors: Sandhya Clement, Brint Gardner, Wan Aizuddin W Razali, Victoria A Coleman, Åsa K Jämting, Heather J Catchpoole, Ewa M Goldys, Jan Herrmann and Andrei Zvyagin.

Abstract: The estimation of nanoparticle number concentration in colloidal suspensions is a prerequisite in many procedures, and in particular in multi-stage, low-yield reactions. Here, we describe a rapid, non-destructive method based on optical extinction and dynamic light scattering (DLS), which combines measurements using common bench-top instrumentation with a numerical algorithm to calculate the particle size distribution (PSD) and concentration. These quantities were derived from Mie theory applied to  measurements of the optical extinction spectrum of homogeneous, non-absorbing nanoparticles, and the relative PSD of a colloidal suspension. The work presents
an approach to account for PSDs achieved by DLS which, due to the underlying model, may not be representative of the true sample PSD. The presented approach estimates the absolute particle number concentration of samples with mono-, bi-modal and broad size distributions with <50% precision. This provides a convenient and practical solution for number concentration estimation required during many applications of colloidal nanomaterials.

New CNBP PhD student

20 October 2017:

CNBP welcomes its latest PhD student Lu Peng who will study under the supervision of Center Investigators Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem and Dr Stephen Warren-Smith at the University of Adelaide.

Lu’s project is focused on the use of exposed-core microstructured optical fibre to do two-dimensional fibre imaging. This research has the potential to be used in both biological and medical fields. The aim is to get high resolution and accurate information realized in a single exposed fibre.

Following an undergraduate degree in physics, Lu gained her Master’s degree in optics from South China Normal University. Her thesis at that time, examined a micro-structured fibre refractive index sensor, based on surface plasmon resonance.

Welcome to the CNBP team Lu!