New Argovia projects

We already presented the first four Argovia projects, launched in spring 2017, in the July issue of SNI update. We now provide a brief overview of the projects PlasmoRetarder and 3D Cellophil® membranes.

In the project PlasmoRetarder, researchers plan to develop a plasmonic phase retarder and to electrically control the emitted color.

PlasmoRetarder – electrically controlled colors

In the Nano Argovia project PlasmoRetarder, researchers at CSEM in Muttenz and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen are working with industrial partner Rolic Technologies Ltd (Allschwil) to develop a plasmonic phase retarder which can be used for displays in sensor technology and imaging applications. The project is led by Dr. Benjamin Gallinet of CSEM Muttenz.

On the surface of nanostructured metals, electrons can be excited to collective oscillations known as surface plasmons. These plasmonic nanostructures are able to focus light at the nanoscale and to influence its color, phase and polarization. As a result, they can be used, for example, as color filters with outstanding resolution and a wide range of applications.

The researchers working on the PlasmoRetarder project aim to develop, characterize and optimize a controllable phase retarder. To achieve this, they are producing nanostructures measuring up to 100 nanometers and working on an optimal coating process using metals. With the help of liquid crystals, the team hopes to be able to electrically control the color emitted by the phase retarder. In a second step, the phase retarder will be incorporated into a device intended to demonstrate the technology’s future potential in optoelectronic equipment.

3D Cellophil® membrane – patient-specific and tailored to conditions in the mouth

The Nano Argovia project 3D Cellophil® membrane aims to develop innovative nanostructured implants that support the regeneration of bone and soft tissue in the jaw and mouth area, and can be custom-built for each patient using 3D printing techniques. Professor Uwe Pieles of the FHNW School of Life Sciences is the project leader in charge of the team, which includes researchers from the FHNW, the Hightech Research Center of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery at University Hospital Basel and Bubendorf-based company CIS Pharma AG.

In the project, the researchers develop a triple-layered polymer membrane based on the Cellophil® technology developed by CIS Pharma. Cellophil® is a combination of various natural amino acids linked by an acrylic backbone and characterized by a high degree of biocompatibility. The polymers are mixed with cross-linking substances. After exposure to UV light, this gives rise to membranes with varying degrees of porosity depending on the amount added.

The researchers make use of this phenomenon and give the three layers of the implant different properties. The two outer layers are porous, supporting the attachment of bone-building osteoblasts to the surface facing the bone, and of fibroblasts on the side in contact with the soft tissue. The membrane’s middle layer contains a higher proportion of cross-linking substances, making it less permeable to cells. This is intended to prevent the fast-growing fibroblasts from overrunning the osteoblasts, which propagate at a slower rate, and impairing bone formation. Furthermore, the two outer layers contain different concentrations of active substances specifically selected to support the growth and differentiation of osteoblasts or fibroblasts, respectively. Despite the different composition of the three layers, they can be individually tailored to the patient and printed in a single step.