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David Suzuki The future isn’t in plastics

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CONTENTS 9 THE FUTURE ISN’T IN PLASTICS

BUILDING BLOCKS

FROM THE LAB TO FAB

BY HERMIONE WILSON

BY DAVID SUZUKI

BY JEFF ELLIOTT

Waterloo’s nanotech research centre has very small solutions to big global problems.

Taking steps to stop choking landfills and waterways with discarded plastic.

Integrating plasma treatment systems into the manufacturing process.

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STANDARDS GUEST editorial 5 CANADIAN news 6 WORLDWIDE news 7 LAB ware 14 MOMENTS in time 16

Do the flip

See how UBC researchers are working to evolve cellphones as the next step in medical diagnostics. CANADA NEWS

NEWSMAKER

Reducing opioid abuse via molecular analysis 6

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MOMENTS IN TIME A Canadian nanotech hub is born 16

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

David Suzuki The future isn’t in plastics

Lewis Kay highlights new methods to study shape-shifting proteins 12

From Lab to Fab THE DEFINITIVE SOURCE FOR LAB PRODUCTS, NEWS AND DEVELOPMENTS

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September/October 2018

Integrating plasma treatment into manufacturing

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Championing the Business of Biotechnology in Canada

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SUZUKI matters

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

University of Waterloo is solving global problems at the atomic level

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The next step in medical diagnostics

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A Student’s Perspective on Nanotechnology

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eing a co-op student, getting to know the dynamic reality of the workplace and doing research on the various topics covered here, has brought about the realization that my worldview simply does not fit anymore. In thinking about the future, it is remiss to assume that the world will look exactly as it appears right now. With all sorts of advancements in technology reported daily in the news, it’s obvious that in 10 or 20 years, the world will be a very different place. Each time another iPhone is released, everyone knows about it, but it seems as if that’s as far as it goes in regard to general knowledge and awareness of new technology among my peers. We all know our world is changing, but it may come to pass sooner, and more dramatically, than we expect. As a student living with this technological shift in real – albeit slow – time, it’s surreal to contemplate. Ten years ago, we were still employing overhead projectors in the classroom and many of us hardly knew how to use a computer, whereas a peek into the modern classroom now reveals how integral digital skills are for learning (and that overhead projectors are obsolete). Ten years was all it took for this shift to overtake the school setting, and there is no doubt that in another 10 years, it will have advanced further. Perhaps classrooms will enjoy the massive processing power of the conceptual quantum computer, a machine that will utilize nano-sized parts while applying the principles of quantum theory to create a computing device able to process enormous amounts of data instantaneously. In my research I discovered that recently, scientists from Ohio State University developed designer molecules, dubbed ”molecular baskets,” that were able to locate simulated nerve agents in liquid and capture them for removal, leaving behind purified water. They hope that these molecular baskets can one day be used to get rid of toxic compounds not only in the environment, but also in humans. This is just one branch of research and development in many areas of nanotechnology over the past few years, from improving the qualities of plastic food wrapping to creating safer and more efficient hydrogen fuel cells, to neutralizing industrial water pollution. There’s so much growth in science, perhaps dirty water issues in developing countries could be solved with incredibly low-cost and lowenergy nanofilters – and when my generation is thrown into the world, perhaps we will join the wave of progress, and help to resolve all the world’s problems. Slowly but surely, change is creeping up on us, and we’re making it happen. Ethan Kwan Nanotechnology is the future, and we are GUEST CONTRIBUTOR standing in its splash zone. Ethan Kwan is in grade 11, advanced placement for English and Computer Science, and works with Jesmar Communications four days per week as part of his high school co-op program, assisting with research and general editorial duties. Before this issue, he knew very little about nanotechnology but had heard about its medical applications. He is most interested in theoretical physics and is considering studying science in university.

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Canadian NEWS New national Census on Biotech Labour Market

To shed light on workforce issues in the biotech sector, BioTalent Canada is launching a new 36-month study that builds on baseline data from a survey released in 2013. Results from that earlier survey of 242 Canadian biotech firms pointed to limited funding access as a significant challenge among 78 per cent of companies. Staff vacancies were less concerning, but 33.2 percent reported skills shortages such as gaps in leadership, interpersonal and communication styles; 40 per cent of these respondents indicated that the skillshortage was having a major negative impact on their company. The tendency to outsource increased in all Canadian regions (other than Ontario) with 63 per cent reporting it was necessary to solve vacancies and skills shortages. The top three growth strategies included new product and service development, expansion of market share and government funding. The upcoming study, funded by the Canadian government, will help address current and future skills shortages, enable better workforce planning and show any progress since the previous report.

Biotech Leader's Cannabis Division Prepares to Launch in Canadian Market

NanoSphere Health Sciences, Inc., has teamed up with Delta 9 Cannabis, Inc., to bring products from its cannabis brand, Evolve Formulas, into the Canadian market. NanoSphere was granted market exclusivity for its unique delivery system which works by encasing the active ingredients in a nanoscale shell that is so small it can be transported through the skin and mucosa into the bloodstream within minutes. Considered safer than inhaling or ingesting cannabis, it can be applied through transdermal viscous gels, as well as intranasal and intraoral products, for rapid results and precise dosages.

New Polymer Could Replace Metal in Cars

A durable industrial plastic adapted by a University of Victoria chemist for use in automotive components could replace metal and lead to lighter vehicle weights and greater energy efficiency. Jeremy Wulff’s team added an extra chemical handle onto the molecular structure of Polydicyclopentadiene, a key polymer in the production of automotive parts and other consumer goods, to improve its smell, resistance to adhesives and non-recyclable nature. The team recently stepped up production from milligram scale to hundred-gram scale and is looking for an industrial partner to begin pilotplant production, leading to commercialization. 6

September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

More Memory, Less Space: Grappling with Vast Amounts of Data

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or an increasing number of Canadian laboratories, the reality of artificial intelligence and the need for real-time computer processing presents enormous challenges in data management. Now, a team of scientists out of the University of Alberta have created a dense, solid-state memory that could soon exceed the capacity of current hard drives by 1,000 times. Advances in nanotechnology and the ability to interact at infinitesimal levels enabled their discovery of an atomic-scale rewritable memory that is small, stable and dense, and can easily contain terabytes of data. “Essentially, you can take all 45 million songs on iTunes and store them on the surface of one quarter,” said Roshan Achal, PhD student in the university’s Department of Physics and lead author on the new research. “Five years ago, this wasn’t even something we thought possible.” Unlike previous discoveries, which were stable only in cryogenic conditions in deep-freeze temperatures, this memory can withstand normal use and transportation beyond the lab. “What is often overlooked in the nanofabrication business is actual transportation to an end user, that simply was not possible until now given temperature restrictions,” says Achal. “Our memory is stable well above room temperature and precise down to the atom.” Achal explained that immediate applications will be data archival. Next steps will be increasing readout and writing speeds, meaning even more flexible applications. Achal works with University of Alberta physics professor Robert Wolkow, a pioneer in the field of atomic-scale physics. Wolkow perfected the art of the science behind nanotip technology, which has now reached a tipping point, meaning scaling up atomic-scale manufacturing for commercialization. “With this last piece of the puzzle now in-hand, atom-scale fabrication will become a commercial reality in the very near future,” said Wolkow. Wolkow’s spin-off company, Quantum Silicon, Inc., is commercializing atom-scale fabrication for use in all areas of the technology sector. To demonstrate the new discovery, Achal, Wolkow and their fellow scientists not only fabricated the world’s smallest maple leaf, they also encoded the entire alphabet at a density of 138 terabytes, roughly equivalent to writing 350,000 letters across a grain of rice. Achal also encoded music as an atomsized song.


Worldwide NEWS

Park Systems Announces Park Nanoscience Lab at Indian Institute of Science in India

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ark Systems has teamed up with the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, to launch a leading-edge nanoscience laboratory where researchers have access to the latest in Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) and high-resolution nanoscale imaging. AFMs have become the most widely used tool for imaging, measuring and manipulating matter at the nanoscale and have led to other scanning probe techniques. “Increasingly, AFM is being selected for nanotechnology research over other metrology techniques due to its non-destructive measurement and subnanometer accuracy,” said Dr. Sang-il Park, Park Systems Chairman and CEO. “The new Park Nanoscience Lab at the Indian Institute is a tremendous step forward for researchers in India who work in the advancing fields of nanoscience and technology.” The Park Nanoscience Lab will showcase advanced atomic force microscopy systems, demonstrate a wide variety of applications ranging from chemical and biological materials, to semiconductor and devices, and provide hands-on experience, training and service, year-round. Equipped with Park NX20 AFM, the nanoscience lab will host workshops and symposiums on the latest advancements in nanometrology and offer researchers a chance to experience the latest in AFM technology. According to a comment by Prof. Navakant Bhat, CeNSE, in The Hindu Business Line, “The partnership with Park Systems and their Atomic Force Microscope technology strengthens our academic and scientific community by bringing an exciting new research tool to a shared access location, supporting the growing demand for nanotechnology here in India.” Park Systems’ advanced AFM platform includes SmartScans which produces high quality imaging with only very few clicks. Park SmartScan’s unique design makes the use of AFM simple and helps boost the productivity for users, enabling even inexperienced, untrained users to produce high-quality nanoscale imaging through three simple clicks of a mouse in auto mode. After over a quarter-century of continuous growth and product innovation, Park has the longest history of AFM business in the industry. The company has developed a global sales network of over 30 countries and has more than 1000 AFMs in use around the world. This fast-growing AFM company has more than 120 full-time employees dedicated to producing accurate and easyto-use AFMs. Park Systems, a global AFM manufacturer, has Nanoscience Centers in key cities world wide including Santa Clara, CA; Albany NY; Tokyo, Japan; Singapore; Heidelberg, Germany; and Suwon and Seoul, South Korea.

Advancing Nanoengineered Inks for 3D Bioprinting

Around the globe, scientists are working to overcome the challenges associated with 3D bioprinting and engineering complex cell structures that can replace human tissue. 3D bioprinting has the potential to rapidly produce complex tissue structures and contribute to saving lives. However, the lack of viable bioinks that are printable and can guide cell function presents a problem. Researchers at Texas A&M University recently shared their work on designing a new family of nanoengineered bioinks. They strengthened the bioink by combining nanocomposite reinforcement with ionic-covalent entanglement, resulting in improved printability, mechanical properties and printing accuracy.

Scientists Create Biodegradable, Paper-based Biobatteries

Researchers at Binghamton University have created a more powerful, efficient, biodegradable, paper-based battery. The university’s professors Seokheun Choi and Omowunmi Sadik collaborated on the new design which they say is easy to produce, low-cost, flexible and more efficient than previously proposed paper-based batteries. Their biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers – poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-pphenylenediamine), which were key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Their work, published this June, was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and done through the Center for Research in Advanced Sensing Technologies and Environmental Sustainability.

Inspired by Insect Feet to Boost Adhesive Nature of Silicone Materials

A research team from Kiel University (CAU) has now succeeded in boosting the adhesive effect of a silicone material. To do so they combined two methods: First, they structured the surface on the micro scale based on the example of beetle feet, and thereafter treated it with plasma. In addition, they found that the adhesiveness of the structured material changes drastically if it is bent to varying degrees. Among other areas of application, their results could be interesting for the development of tiny robots and gripping devices. They have been published in the latest editions of the scientific journals Advanced Materials and ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. www.labbusinessmag.com

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Suzuki MATTERS

BY DAVID SUZUKI WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SENIOR EDITOR IAN HANINGTON

THE FUTURE ISN’T IN

PLASTICS

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Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Ian Hanington is Senior Editor, David Suzuki Foundation. Learn more at www. davidsuzuki.org.

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eople in Canada discard about 57 million plastic drinking straws every day. In my hometown of Vancouver, we toss out 2.6 million disposable cups every week. It’s a global problem. Plastic products are choking landfills and waterways and causing devastation in the oceans. In 2014, scientists even found a new kind of stone in Hawaii, made of sand, shells, coral, volcanic rock and plastic. That’s why Vancouver is set to join cities and countries worldwide in banning single-use items made from plastic and other materials. The ban, which will begin to take effect in fall, will cover plastic and paper shopping bags, polystyrene foam cups and takeout containers, disposable hot and cold drink cups, take-out food containers and disposable straws and utensils from all citylicensed restaurants and vendors. The city says it costs about $2.5 million a year to collect single-use items from public waste bins and parks, streets and green spaces. Plastics are durable, which is both a benefit and a problem. Products made from plastics can last a long time but most are discarded after a short time – very short in the case of single-use items – and take a long time to break down. When they do break down, they don’t biodegrade; rather, they break into increasingly smaller pieces, many of which end up in the oceans as microplastics that harm aquatic life and birds. From manufacture to disposal and beyond, these items wreak havoc on the environment. Almost all plastic products are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. Producing them requires a significant amount of resources and pollutes air and water with toxic chemicals.

September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

When they’re thrown away, they litter landscapes and clog landfills. Often they’re carried by wind and waterways to the oceans, where they can be found everywhere, including in massive swirling gyres and in most of the animals that live in or on the seas. Additives in plastics can also leach into food and beverages, harming human health. Plastics haven’t been around for long, and their use really only took off after the Second World War, mirroring the boom in fossil fuel use. People have produced more than nine-billion tonnes of plastic in less than 70 years, more than half of it over the past 13 years, according to a study in Science Advances. Only about nine per cent gets recycled, although the figure is higher in countries like China, which produces the most plastic but recycles about 25 per cent. More than half of discarded plastic is packaging. We’re showing no signs of slowing down. According to research by the U.S.-based Center for International Environmental Law, the boom in cheap shale gas production is fuelling “a massive wave of new investments in plastics infrastructure in the US and abroad, with $164 billion planned for 264 new facilities or expansion projects in the US alone, and spurring further investment in Europe and beyond.” Companies are marketing plastic packaging and other products to countries that haven’t been as reliant on them and are not always as aware of the problems. That could drive production up by a third. Center staff attorney Steven Feit notes, “Fossil fuels and plastics are not only made from the same materials, they are made by the same companies. Exxon is both the gas in your car and the plastic in your water bottle.” He noted that plastics will account for 20 per cent of total oil consumption by 2050 if consumer and production trends continue. Plastic can and has been made from other sources, including plant-derived molecules, fibres and starches, but fossil fuels are still relatively plentiful and inexpensive, and plant-based products also come with environmental baggage. The best way to avoid the massive damage that comes with plastics and fossil fuels is to stop using so many. We can avoid overpackaged products, bring reusable bags and containers to stores and coffee shops and use alternatives. For example, people who need to use straws because of disabilities can carry straws made from biodegradable paper or reusable metal, bamboo or glass. Cities like Vancouver and the 60 countries moving to ban or impose levies on single-use plastic products are taking a step in the right direction. LB


Lab PROFILE

BUILDING BLOCKS

Waterloo’s nanotech research centre has very small solutions to big global problems STORY BY

Hermione Wilson

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t the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN), in Ontario, scientific investigation happens on an atomic scale – at one millionth of a millimeter, to be exact. Researchers are studying how materials, both biological and artificial, behave on a nanoscale, and they are developing technology that does everything from powering biosensors to playing a role in targeted drug delivery systems. “That is the nature of nanotechnology,” says Lisa Pokrajac, Assistant Director, Research Programs. “It is so broad and encompassing that it can address and solve so many of the global issues and problems that we’re seeing today.” The mission of the Institute is to explore the economic and social implications of nanotech and nanoscience research in the global community, says Executive Director Sushanta Mitra. “WIN is uniquely positioned,” he says. “We have the capabilities and the resources to bridge the entire landscape, from quantum to nanomachines, nanomaterials, to microsensors and wearable devices connected with the Internet of Things and AI. You rarely see a place where such a level of expertise exists across the entire landscape of the technology space.” WIN is one of the largest nanotechnology research centres in Canada. The Institute is one half of the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, made possible by

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Lab PROFILE WIN features 23 laboratories where its 92 member researchers, and about 400 graduate students, work on various projects related to nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

a donation from Mike Lazaridis (one of the founders of BlackBerry) and his wife, which was matched by the governments of Canada and Ontario for a combined investment of $160 million. WIN shares the 285,000 square-foot Quantum-Nano Centre with the Institute for Quantum Computing. WIN benefits from its close proximity to the Quantum NanoFab lab, which connects the two institutes and features cutting-edge tools that allow researchers to deposit and fabricate materials with precision at the nanometre scale. “We can also grow materials at the Molecular Beam Epitaxy facility, which has an MBE system that can grow materials atom by atom based on the desired properties of the materials,” Mitra says. In the basement of the building there are a number of state-of-the-art metrology suites for nanometrology, Mitra says, which involves the study of properties of materials on a nano scale. The Institute also has a transmission electron microscope, scanning electron microscope, superconducting quantum interference device, molecular beam epitaxy system, and other spectroscopy measurement tools. WIN features 23 laboratories where its 92 member researchers, and about 400 graduate students, work on various projects related to nanotechnology and nanomaterials. Each of those 23 labs falls under one of four thematic areas (and some fall under more than one): Smart and Functional Materials, Connected Devices, Next Generation Energy Systems, and Therapeutics and Theranostics. “The biggest group that we have is the Smart and Functional Materials 10

September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

“As we move forward as an Institute, I think we will be able to solve some of the global challenges, be it energy, be it water, be it public health or aging.” –S  ushanta Mitra, Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN)


Lab PROFILE group,” Pokrajac says. “Almost 70 members of our 92 are either primarily categorized or cross-categorized into [that group], and that covers absolutely everything with respect to novel material development.” Researchers in the Smart and Functional Materials group are working on projects ranging from smart glass to the development of biomaterials to replace petrochemical-based polymers, Pokrajac explains. One group of researchers is working with electrically conducting materials, which falls under both the Smart and Functional Materials and Next Generation Energy Systems groups. There is a lot of working being done with biomedical sensors, the Internet of Things and remote generation in the Connected Devices group. The Next Generation Energy Systems group is concerned with nano solutions to energy generation and storage, involving new battery technology, solar cells, fuel cells and nanogenerators used to power the new technology being developed by the Connected Devices group. The smallest group at WIN is Therapeutics and Theranostics, but it is the group with the most potential for growth, says Pokrajac. The projects this group is working on have implications for health care, especially in terms of improving health in aging populations and emerging economies through remote sample testing. “Instead of somebody having to go to a clinic, a doctor or a medical technician can actually take a tiny handheld sensor or analytical equipment to the patient and then have them properly diagnosed and treated, and then having it connected to their cellphone for improved libraries and assisting with diagnostic and treatment,” Pokrajac says. There is no end to the possibilities offered by nanotechnology and nanomaterials. Mitra speaks of an ongoing project at WIN in which researchers have developed e-textiles that allow them to use clothing as a display for health information about the wearer, and flexible electronics that can be folded. “There are people who have developed things like efficient lithium batteries,” he says. “Currently we have a very strong research focus in lithium ion batteries, and we are leading the world in that respect.” Mitra’s own research concerns fluid transport in micro and nano-scale confinements. “What we’re trying to do is what is referred to as soft condensed matter physics,” he explains. “We try to understand how interfaces or liquids move within

There is no end to the possibilities offered by nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

nano confinement – this may be liquid containing ions, or salt water – and how its properties change in terms of its wettability of surfaces and so forth.” Mitra and his colleagues study everything from the direction the ions move on surfaces, to the mobility of those liquids in nano conduits and micro channels. The research based on this fundamental understanding of the behaviour of these nano processes can be applied in three distinct areas, Mitra says: energy applications, such as trying to understand how to efficiently extract natural resources from beneath the earth’s surface; environmental monitoring, including monitoring of water quality and the detection of contaminants such as e.coli; and biosystems, such as a biosensor that could detect rising levels of proteins in blood samples to determine in real time whether the wearer is experiencing a heart attack or not. Mitra received the Hind Rattan Award in February from the nonresident persons of Indian origin (NRI) Welfare Society of India for his contributions to nanoscience, as well as for his efforts to build connections between Canadian and Indian academics and students. He was also recently made a foreign fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering. Mitra has been a proponent of scientific collaboration with India since his days of leading the Integrated Water Management team at the CanadaIndia Research Centre of Excellence. Earlier this year, he was also instrumental in orchestrating a funding agreement between WIN and Mitacs Inc., which will involve the funding of research mobility programs between WIN and selected Indian Institutes of Technology. Mitra is one bright example of the type of expertise and knowledge that WIN has at its disposal. Combined with state-of-the-art equipment and a community of dedicated researchers, there is no limit to what this Canadian research institute can accomplish. “As we move forward as an Institute, I think we will be able to solve some of the global challenges, be it energy, be it water, be it public health or aging,” Mitra says. “I think that’s where we’ll see our real strength.” LB www.labbusinessmag.com

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Application NOTE

From the LAB TO FAB:

Integrating Plasma Treatment Systems into the Manufacturing Process STORY BY

Jeff Elliott

F

or manufacturers of products that require a plasma treatment step for cleaning and decontamination, surface conditioning or to promote adhesion, specifying and integrating the required equipment to automate the process can be daunting. To start, many engineers only have a working understanding of plasma treatments. Plasma is a state of matter, like a solid, liquid or gas. When enough energy is added to a gas it becomes ionized into a plasma state. The collective properties of these active ingredients can be controlled to clean, activate, chemically graft and deposit a wide range of chemistries. However, even when plasma treatment is identified as a critical step in the manufacturing process, specifying and integrating the “tools” required (as the equipment is called) can be even more challenging. With so many applications and sizes of parts to be processed, standard off-the-shelf vacuum chamber solutions often do not suffice. In addition, as plasma treatment is increasingly integrated into existing production systems, so does the need to eliminate manual operations in favour of automated, “hands-off” production systems. Fortunately, today this does not necessarily mean purchasing a custom tool. Leading plasma equipment providers can semi-customize existing mature tools and technology to accommodate new or non-standard parts. This includes providing the necessary robotics for high throughput, automated loading and processing. “At least once a week we talk with customers about some sort of customization of our existing standardized systems,” says Walt Roloson, R&D Engineering Manager at PVA TePla, a company that designs and manufactures plasma systems. “I would estimate 60 per cent of the equipment we deliver has gone through some degree of customization.” According to Roloson, a prime example occurred when PVA TePla was approached in November 2017 by IMA Automation Medtech, a Swiss company that designs turnkey automated assembly lines for medical devices. The request was to specify a system that would replace an older, existing plasma treatment system that required manual loading with an automated solution. The small vacuum plasma chamber would be used to treat several “pallets” of 4-5 cm items in an automated batch process. The parts were being treated with plasma as a critical surface activation step prior to the application of a coating. Each 12x12-inch aluminum pallet held three hundred items and the requirement specified a processing time of less than eight minutes from initial loading to unloading.

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September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

The system was actually part of a larger manufacturing cell designed by IMA Automation Medtech that included a flexfeed device for loading packaged parts into the “pallets” on the front end, followed by the plasma treatment, coating, curing and then another coating/curing step. For this project, the customer decided not to return to the original equipment provider. “The customer was looking for a new plasma treatment solution that was not the original brand, so we were asked to find another vendor to provide a system that could be integrated into the automated line,” says Ruben De Araujo, a Process Engineer for IMA Automation Medtech. IMA Automation Medtech also wanted a plasma equipment provider that was willing to pre-test the tool to validate performance prior to delivery. “We wanted the equipment supplier to test parts to give us confidence purchasing the system,” says De Araujo. “We were also looking for a company that was established enough to support the customer in Europe, because the line will be installed there.” After researching leading companies in the industry, IMA Automation Medtech decided PVA TePla met the requirements. “PVA was willing to customize the equipment to fulfill our requirements,” says De Araujo. According to PVA TePla’s Roloson, the initial specifications sent by IMA Automation Medtech were several pages long, complete with CAD drawings. However, as one-off unit, the original equipment had many custom elements such as a conveyorized track that transported the pallets in and out of the vacuum chamber. “We had never built anything like it, so it would have been a completely custom solution if we had to match it,” says Roloson. “However, the general concept of automatically loading and unloading pallets with pick-and-place robots and treating parts in batches we have done many times.” To meet the requirements, PVA TePla proposed a semicustomized version of one of its smaller production-level vacuum chamber tools, because, “it could process pallets in batches and we already had a kit to add robotics to it,” says Roloson. Roloson says IMA Automation Medtech had approached other plasma treatment equipment providers as well, but the quotes for a completely custom system were exorbitant. By going with a standard tool instead, and having it customized, the customer ultimately saved both time and money. Whereas a custom system from scratch could require as much as 400-450 hours of engineering, a semi-customized system is typically less than half of that amount. Plasma


Application NOTE process the “answer values” as well as control the automated loading and chamber door opening elements. Internet communication is only used for sending batch processing data to an SQL server. “Now we have this great dialogue PLC module for the communication with our interface,” says De Araujo. “This is a very simple and secure way to communicate.”

For customers who may not be ready to automate, plasma equipment tools can be configured to keep options open for future upgrades as production increases. equipment suppliers can also purchase components such as chambers, electrodes and pumps in bulk, often at discounted rates. “The price for semi-customizing a standard model is just a much better value overall because most of the engineering is already figured out,” explains Roloson. SOFTWARE CUSTOMIZATION For the project with IMA Automation Medtech, Roloson says the most significant request was alterations to the communication and control software. As a company that supplies automated systems to the pharmaceutical, food and medical industries, IMA Automation Medtech must comply with Title 21 CFR Part 11 regulations established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for electronic records. Part 11 requires companies to implement controls, including audits, system validations, audit trails, electronic signatures and documentation for software and systems involved in processing electronic data. With this in mind, IMA Automation Medtech decided not to send information through standard RS-232 or Ethernet connections and instead opted to utilize a PLC-based communications and control system, both for security and to work with the other component parts of the automated line. “Regarding the software interface to the rest of our machine, we decided the PVA TePla system should communicate with our PLCs in a way that we were sure that the data that is collected is secure,” says De Araujo. Although PVA TePla’s standard systems are designed to facilitate Part 11 compliance, standard models are PC-based. To meet IMA Automation Medtech’s requirement, the company’s in-house computer software and control engineer altered the system to communicate via PLC with digital output signals designed to read as binary code. In this way, the PLCs could send treatment “recipes” and

HARDWARE MODIFICATIONS Some hardware modifications were required as well. With PVA TePla’s equipment, the vacuum ports are typically located at the back of each unit. However, to match the existing system that was being replaced, IMA Automation Medtech wanted the vacuum ports at the bottom of the chamber. The port placement was also important because it affected the flow of ionized gas over the parts. In this case, the customer was concerned about the treatment on the innerside of each part, something that was occasionally difficult with the original equipment. By relocating the vacuum port at the bottom of the chamber, however, contact angle goniometry tests demonstrated the surface conditioning had improved. “We did tests on the [processed part] samples they provided and the contact angle was excellent,” explains De Araujo. “It was better than what the customer was getting before from the old tool port.” IMA Automation Medtech also required a special dry vacuum pump, due to the system’s location in the cleanroom. The dry vacuum pumps were air-cooled as well, which eliminated the need for water pipes to cool it down. Finally, a “slow vent” design was required to ensure the heat in the chamber does not damage the sensitive parts. Slowing the venting process ensures the insertion of air into the system at atmospheric pressure is slowed to reduce the heating effect. AUTOMATING FOR THE FUTURE For those customers that may not be ready to automate, plasma equipment tools can be configured to keep options open for future upgrades as production increases. “Some customers purchase a manual batch tool with the idea that at some point, they are going to have to automate,” says PVA TePla’s Roloson. “If they have a tool with our standard software, we can add a robotic interface and modify it so there is an automatic door and atmosphere switch, and it can become fully automated.” If production levels increase to even higher levels, a high throughput system can be designed by creating a cluster of plasma tools served by a single universal robot in the center. In this way, five or six chambers can be grouped in a cluster. “The elegance of the automated plasma treatment solutions that are available today is a new customer can leverage existing technology and know-how, as opposed to having to pay to create something that is entirely new,” says Roloson. LB Jeff Elliott is a Torrance, Calif.-based technical writer. He has researched and written about industrial technologies and issues for the past 20 years.


Lab WARE INTUITIVE TOUCH-SCREEN CONTROL FOR ALMOST ANY VACUUM APPLICATION

BrandTech Scientific recently unveiled its new VACUUBRAND PC3001 VARIO select chemistry vacuum system which brings the ease of touch-screen control to rotary evaporation, centrifugal concentration or almost any other vacuum applications. Much like a smartphone, the integrated VACUU•SELECT® controller provides an intuitive interface to a powerful speed-controlled 1.5 Torr, 34 lpm PTFE diaphragm vacuum pump for whisper-quiet operation and service intervals measured in tens of thousands of hours. Select from one of the many included routines, or use the drag-anddrop menus for creating your own custom application in seconds. Integrated solvent recovery completes the package. www.brandtech.com

FLUIDITY ONE SYSTEM OFFERS A NEW WAY FORWARD IN PROTEIN ANALYSIS

Now scientists have a better way to characterize proteins using the Fluidity One system, recently introduced by Fluidic Analytics Ltd., out of the UK. Built on peer reviewed science and patented fluidic separation and detection technology, the Fluidity One system analyses protein in solution and in their natural state using microfluidic diffusional sizing. By simply loading 5μL onto the chip, a scientist can rapidly measure changes in protein size and concentration caused by folding, aggregation or interactions with other proteins in a biologically relevant context. This approach gives customers access to unique quantitative insights into protein behaviour, unlike any other approach. www.fluidic.com

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September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

COMPLETE CANNABIS TESTING SOLUTIONS

RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY ON INORGANIC MATERIALS

Princeton Instruments has expanded its FERGIE spectrometer product line with new 532 nm accessories, including f-matched Focusing CUBES as well as Raman CUBES with fully aligned Raman notches and clean-up filters. The system’s unique optical design and innovative, modular CUBE accessories enable users to perform high-precision Raman, fluorescence, absorption, and transmittance/reflectance measurements with ease. It allows researchers to design and switch between experiments quickly. Unlike 785 nm, Raman measurements at 532 nm offer better sensitivity with a higher Raman cross-section. The greater spatial resolution makes it ideal for carbon materials (e.g., graphene and carbon nanotubes) and other thin film material characterization. www.princetoninstruments.com

Within Canada’s emerging cannabis industry, Thermo Fisher Scientific now offers scientists a diverse and comprehensive product portfolio with complete workflows and technologies to start or scale laboratory operations and produce reliable results. Among these, the Thermo Scientific™ TSQ Altis™ Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer enables scientists to address the most stringent analytical challenges for targeted quantitation workflows. With its improved Active Ion Management (AIM™) technology, segmented quadrupoles, novel electron multipliers and enhanced ion transmission tubes, the TSQ Altis MS helps scientists conducting cannabis testing to achieve experimental sensitivity for all molecular species in complex matrices without sacrificing robustness. www.thermofisher.com/ CannabisTesting


Lab WARE NEXT-GENERATION PROCESS TECHNOLOGIES FOR INTENSIFIED DRUG PRODUCTION

Three new products by MilliporeSigma aim to help biomanufacturers navigate the biopharma landscape with increased speed, greater flexibility and enhanced quality. These next-generation process intensification technologies include the Eshmuno® CP-FT resin – a first of its kind cation exchange chromatography resin for flow-through removal of mAb aggregates – and two GMP-grade modified amino acids for single-fed batch processing: Phospho-L-Tyrosine Disodium Salt and L-Cysteine S-Sulfate Sodium Sesquihydrate. The company anticipates that these technologies will help bring new therapies to market faster and be more cost-effective. It estimates that next-generation processing will reduce production costs by 25 per cent and expand manufacturing capacity by 65 percent. www.emdmillipore.com

NEW PROGRAMMABLE SHAKING DRY BATH CHILLS AND HEATS

Torrey Pines Scientific, Inc., announces its new EchoTherm™ Model SC25XT Fully Programmable Variable Speed Shaking Dry Bath for use with biological and other samples. The SC25XT is fully programmable with a Five-program memory and a temperature range from -20°C to 100°C. It has a variable speed orbital shaker for mixing samples while controlling sample temperature to 1°C. Included are a 30-day countdown timer with alarm and auto-off, data logger, and RS232 I/O port for data logging or controlling the units from a computer. It is an excellent molecular biology tool and can be used to run temperature/time profiles, unattended restriction digestions or ligations, automatic enzyme reactions and deactivations, storing oocytes at 17°C, storing DNA libraries at the workstation and more. www.torreypinesscientific.com

NEW HYDROGEN GAS SOLUTION FOR GC INSTRUMENTS

Peak Scientific, a global leader in gas generation for analytical laboratories, has introduced a new hydrogen gas solution to the market, the Precision Hydrogen Trace 1200. The Precision Hydrogen Trace 1200 is designed primarily for gas chromatography (GC) carrier gas use. The versatile new generator can also be used for multiple GC detectors requiring hydrogen fuel gas such as FID and FPD. Compact and stackable, it produces up to 1200 cc of carrier grade hydrogen gas at 99.9999% purity. It can supply multiple GC instruments, is an ideal single-source solution for larger labs with multiple GC or GC-MS instruments and is also suitable for providing collision gas for ICP-MS. www.peakscientific.com

ADVANCED MULTIFLO™ FX CAPABILITIES ENHANCE CELL BIOLOGY APPLICATIONS

BioTek Instruments has added two new functions to its MultiFlo™ FX MultiMode Dispenser to facilitate cell biology workflows. The new, patent-pending AMX™ Automated Media Exchange module automates gentle, consistent media exchanges to protect and encourage cell growth, particularly for 3D cell structures including spheroids and tumoroids, along with loosely adherent 2D cells. The AMX module mitigates cell structure damage or inadvertent removal. Two autoclavable peristaltic pump cassettes and specially designed aspirate and dispense manifolds, plus programmable flow rates and manifold tip positioning, accomplish the gentle media exchange. Users can now also easily import custom plate maps for dispensing varying volumes to individual wells on the microplate with the new RAD™ Random Access Dispensing module. www.biotek.com

LIST OF ADVERTISERS & WEBSITES Nova Biomedical

Page 2 ............................................................... www.novabio.us

Hanna Instruments

Page 4 ....................................................... www.hannainst.com

Canadian Food Business

Page 17 ........................... www.canadianfoodbusiness.com

VWR

Page 18 .................................................................www.vwr.com

www.labbusinessmag.com

15


Moments in TIME

1938 Microscopic Hair Strands

marked the year the first transmission magnetic electron microscope appeared in Canada STORY BY

I

Courtesy of University of Toronto Physics

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September/October 2018 LAB BUSINESS

Jana Manolakos

n 1938, Canadian physicist Dr. Eli Franklin Burton made history when he slid an ordinary razor blade into his new invention, the very first transmission magnetic electron microscope, and observed a ragged landscape, rather than the smooth edge his naked eye had seen moments before. Built in concert with two University of Toronto graduate students, James Hillier and Albert Prebus, this “Canadian-first� opened the gateway to a new era in scientific discovery, revealing a previously unseen world. Capable of magnifying samples by as much as two million times, the electron microscope shoots electrons from a high-voltage electron gun through electromagnetic and electrostatic fields to produce wavelengths about 100,000 times smaller than visible light. Able now to observe the minutiae of life, the device contributed to the eradication of polio and smallpox and allowed scientists to study cellular process in fields like cancer and stem cell research. In addition, the device offered a broad range of industrial applications that spanned from plastics and textiles to metallic and crystalline structures. Besides the original transmission electron microscope (TEM), other variations of the device were developed including the scanning electron microscope (SEM), the reflection electron microscope (REM), the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) and the low voltage electron microscope (LVEM). The next generation of instruments, the atomic force microscope (AFM), today enables scientists to see even deeper, right down to the nanometre level. LB


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Lab Business September/October 2018  

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