Argovia-Projects 2014

Project Project Leader Collaborators
A9.2 em-SELECT Polymer Emulsion Segmented Electroconductive Nano Fibres for antistatic textile finishing U. Pieles (FHNW Muttenz) J. Gobrecht (PSI), C. Denier (FHNW), M. Height (HeiQ Materials AG, Bad Zurzach; AG)
A9.6 NANOFIL Functionalized nanofiber-enhanced filter media for fine particle and heavy metal removal in flue gas and sewage water C. Ludwig (PSI) T. Griffin (FHNW Windisch), U. Pieles (FHNW Muttenz), I.-V- Thanou (Alstom AG, Birr; AG)
A9.7 NanoSiCTrenchFet Physical Studies of SiC Nano-Trench-MOSFETs M. Schnieper (CSEM Muttenz) N. Marjanovic (CSEM Muttenz), J. Gobrecht (PSI), E. Meyer (Uni Basel), R. Minamisawa (ABB Switzerland Ltd. Baden-Dättwil; AG), H. Bartolf (ABB Switzerland Ltd. Baden-Dättwil; AG)
A9.9 NANOzyme Novel Nanobiocatalysts based on confined and concerted artificial and natural enzymes P. Shahgaldian (FHNW Muttenz) P.F.-X. Corvini (FHNW Muttenz), T. Ward (Uni Basel), A. Cumbo (INOFEA GmBH, Basel; BS)
A9.10 PATCELL Surface-patterning of PLGA for Improved Cell Interaction and Tissue Integration of Resorbable Fixation Implants M. Kristiansen (FHNW Windisch) V. Guzenko (PSI), J. Lungershausen (FHNW ), J. Köser (FHNW Muttenz), S. Beck (Synthes, Oberdorf; BL)
A9.12 SCeNA Single cell nanoanalytics T. Braun (Uni Basel) H.P. Lang (Univ Basel), G. Schlotterbeck (FHNW Muttenz), G. Dernick (Roche, Basel; BS)
A9.15 SINAPIS Niederdruck Wasserstrahl injizierte Nanopartikel zur Verbesserung von Implantaten R. Schumacher (FHNW Muttenz) M. de Wild (FHNW Muttenz), O. Braissant (Uni Basel), M. Straubhaar (WATERjet Robotics AG, Oftringen; AG)

A9.2 em-Select – With nanotechnolgy to new textiles


In the project em-Select, led by Professor Uwe Pieles from the University of Applied Sciences (FHNW), scientists study new fabrics with antistatic properties.

Modern textiles made from natural or synthetic fabrics often charge themselves electrostatically. They cannot transport electrical charges and therefore these charges accumulate on the surface of the textiles. Under certain conditions, the electrostatic discharge can cause fire and explosions and can lead to a malfunction of electronic devices. Especially in sensitive areas of hospitals with life sustaining electronic equipment, the electrostatic charge of textiles and the connected discharge should be prevented and needs to be addressed. Metal or carbon fibers in the fabric or chemical coatings can reduce this problem. However, these treatments come along with reduced wear comfort, durability or optical appearance.

In the Argovia project em-Select, the research team aims to study an entirely new approach to address antistatic properties of textiles, avoiding the mentioned disadvantages. They produce nanometer-sized fibers from a mixture of conductive and non-conductive water-soluble polymers. The scientists apply this mixture in the textile finishing process so that the surface of the fabric is finally covered with a network of conducting polymer fibers. They allow the transport of electrostatic charges and prevent an accumulation or sudden discharge.

In the Argovia project em-Select, researchers from the FHNW in Muttenz and Windisch work closely together with colleagues from the Paul Scherrer Institut and the Swiss company HeiQ Materials in Bad Zurzach.


A9.6 NANOFIL – Better filters for the environment


The project NANOFIL has the ambitious goal of developing new filter systems that remove fine particles and heavy metals from flue gas and contribute to the reduction of environmental damage. Project leader Professor Christian Ludwig from the Paul Scherrer Institut works together with colleagues from the University of Applied Sciences in Muttenz and Windisch and the Swiss company ALSTOM.

Micro- and nanoparticles are abundant in flue gas but are difficult to filter with conventional filter systems. The same holds true for heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic or cadmium. They pollute the environment dramatically but are difficult to remove. Especially, in rapidly growing emerging countries in Asia and South America, these fine particles and heavy metals represent a growing burden for the environment and already now are accountable for many health problems. In industrial nations these issues are also becoming important topics.

The scientists that are involved in NANOFIL have now developed a novel concept to filter nano- and microparticles as well as heavy metals from air. They use fabric grafted with a nanofibre network that mechanically removes the very fine particles. These nanofibres are chemically functionalized and therefore allow the efficient absorption of heavy metals and their removal from air. This step is challenging as heavy metals can appear in different chemical forms with different chemical properties. In this Argovia project, researchers will select suitable functionalized nanofibres, examine the manufacturing of filter samples and proof the concept under simulated test conditions.

A9.7 NanoSiCTrenchFet – Microscopic Trenches Promise Improvements


In the project Nano-Trench MOSFETs, a team of scientists under the leadership of Dr. Marc Schnieper and Dr. Nenad Marjanović from the CSEM in Muttenz study a novel type of transistor that meets the different requirements of increased energy demand in the modern digital computing and global mobility age. Scientists from the groups of Professor Jens Gobrecht from the Paul Scherrer Institut and Professor Ernst Meyer from the University of Basel are involved as well as Dr. Renato Minamisawa and Dr. Holger Bartolf from the Corporate Research Center of ABB Switzerland.

Today’s increasing energy consumption requires the development of new and efficient systems for power generation and distribution. The ABB Corporate Research Center (CRC) in the canton of Aargau is active in this field and develops high power electronics, which is capable of ‘smart-handling’ of high currents and voltages. In the heart of each power system, power semiconductors ensure that sinusoidal signals assimilate the frequency of the individual application. At the moment, Silicon-based devices presently dominate the market and applications (HVDC, traction, renewable energy conversion, automotive drives and electrical vehicle chargers, etc…). So called Silicon Carbide (SiC) based MOSFETs (metal-oxide semiconductor field effect transistors) are becoming more and more important. Due to their superior material properties, these power devices can be operated at very high frequency. Therefore SiC-based power semiconductors have the potential to tremendously change the topologies of the electronic circuits that serve as the heart of each power system. This property makes SiC-MOSFETs ideal candidates for future applications, such as the efficient integration of renewable energies into the grid. However, the design of conventional planar MOSFETs makes it difficult to increase the current densities. Swiss researchers are now investigating MOSFETs with microscopic U-shaped electronic channels. The trench-layout of the MOS-injectors for electrons first of all enables the increase of the injector-density. Secondly, all the electrons are injected normal into the vertical power device. Therefore it is not necessary to force the electrons with a voltage between anode and cathode into the vertical direction (as is the case for the planar MOS-layout).

The scientists in the project study and optimize the manufacturing process of these specially structured MOSFETs, which is much more complex and expensive compared to planar MOSFETs. They characterize the new transistors and compare their properties with those of planar MOSFETs. Thanks to the great experience of the participating scientists, a final analysis will result in an evaluation of the market potential of these novel transistors.

A9.9 NANOzyme – Novel biocatalysts thanks to nanotechnology


In the project NANOzyme, researchers from the University of Applied Sciences (FHNW), the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel and the Swiss company INFOFEA develop new biocatalysts that regenerate cofactors in situ and therefore can be applied cost-efficiently in many different areas.

Enzymes play an important role in biotechnology as they are catalysts for chemical reactions. Many enzymes possess so-called cofactors that are often unstable and are modified during the chemical reaction. They have to be replaced or regenerated before the enzyme can be reused. Because of this instability and the required regeneration, the application of these enzymes is too costly for many industrial processes. Researchers in the project NANOzyme would like to tackle these issues. On one hand, they facilitate the regeneration by combining a natural and an artificial enzyme in one catalyst. The natural enzyme catalyzes the desired chemical reaction, the artificial one undertakes the regeneration. To address instability, scientists among project leader Professor Patrick Shahgaldian have developed a method to protect immobilized proteins at the surface of silica nanoparticles with an organosilica layer. The researchers hope that their approach will lead to an easier application of enzymes that catalyze oxidation processes in biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries.

In the project NANOzyme, the scientists examine two different model systems to establish a strong proof of concept. They analyze enzymes that might play an important role in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry and use their approach to test antibiotic resistance of bacteria. The expertise of the three project partners complement each other perfectly.  

A9.10 PATCELL – Improved biocompatibility through structured polymer surfaces


In the Argovia project PATCELL, screws and plates for fracture fixation are optimized so that they are initially better integrated by the host tissue and are finally resorbed without complications after a successful healing process. To achieve this goal, the team around project leader Professor Per Magnus Kristiansen from the Institute of Polymer Nanotechnology (INKA) at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) investigates the effect of surface structures on different length scales on the cell response to polymer implants.

For bone fractures or bone surgery, screws and plates are needed to fix the affected area. For facial restorations, surgeons use resorbable implants in only 5% of these surgical interventions, as resorbable implants often do not have the required mechanical properties and complications during the implant degradation have been reported. The research team in the project PATCELL now combines micro-and nanostructures on the surface of polymer implants to improve the cell attachment and therefore the biocompatibility. The scientists have to take into account that different parts of the implant interact with different cell types in the body. One side of the implant comes into contact with bone tissue and bone-forming osteoblasts should be able to integrate easily. The other side of the implant ideally possesses a surface structure that ensures easy adhesion and interaction with soft tissue producing fibroblasts. The researchers investigate different manufacturing processes for patterned tooling surfaces, which allow replication of functional surface structures onto implant materials. Preselected structures are then examined with respect to the interaction with various cell types and a first attempt of up-scaling is planned at the end of the project.

Next to Professor Per Magnus Kristiansen his FHNW colleagues Dr. Ronald Holtz and Dr. Joachim Köser, Dr. Sonja Neuhaus and Christian Rytka as well as Dr. Vitaliy Guzenko and Konrad Vogelsang from the Paul Scherrer Institut and Dr. Stefan Beck from DePuy Synthes GmbH participate in this Argovia project.

A9.12 SCeNA – On track to the secrets of single cells


In the project SCeNA (Single Cell NanoAnalytics), an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Basel, the University of Applied Sciences and Hoffmann-La Roche under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Braun (C-CINA) examines different methods of analyzing single cells. The scientists aim to explore how active the individual cells are, which proteins are synthesized and which low molecular weight metabolites are abundant.

Bioanalytical examinations of cells are mostly carried out with cell cultures that contain thousands of cells and therefore deliver average numbers. Heterogeneity of cells and the interactions between cells play an important role in these mea-surements. Many of the analyses require labeling and are complex. In contrast, analyses of single cells have the advantage that they provide a clearer picture and can be carried out cost-effectively with tiny amounts of material. However, single cells are difficult to handle. Scientists in the project SCeNA tackle this issue. They have developed a novel system for the cultivation, lysis and analysis of individual cells. With a technique that combines classical with novel approaches, cells can be observed, lysed and analyzed at specific times. Here, the team is mostly interested in four different parameters. The scientists examine the activity of the cells with respect to protein synthesis by analyzing the m-RNA content. They determine the amount of specific proteins and visualize these by electron and atomic force microscopy for their identification. Additionally, they determine the metabolic state of the cell lysate using mass spectroscopy. This diverse information about single cells provides another piece in the big puzzle to get a better understanding of biological processes. In the project SCeNA, researchers verify if their technologies posses potential for a broad application.


A9.15 SINAPIS – Longevity thanks to structure


In the Argovia project SINAPIS, scientists under the lead of Dipl.-Ing. Ralf Schumacher of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) investigate the improvement of bone implants. In their research approach, they functionalize and structure the contact surfaces of the implants with various nano-and microparticles to achieve a better durability and an optimized integration of bone tissue.

Today, the replacement of knee and hip joints by prostheses is a surgical routine. In Germany alone, 208,000 hip prosthesis and 175,000 artificial knee joints were implanted in 2009 ( Despite the successful use of these implants, it is desirable to extend the durability of the implants and to optimize the integration by bone tissue. To achieve this, the project team plans to use a technique that was originally designed for cleaning hard surfaces. But instead of removing particles, the researchers specifically apply various combinations of nano-and microparticles by a so-called slurry injection. Thereby, a low-pressure water jet is moved across the surface. It functions as carrier for different particles that are incorporated into the surface by the treatment. The SINPASIS team will study various particle combinations with different hardness grades and additionally, will examine how the water-jet pressure influences the incorporation of particles. The scientists aim to use this technique to equip the material with antibacterial properties, to optimize the growth of bone tissue into implant and to minimize the abrasion rate during the daily movement of the joint.

The team of the SINAPIS project includes besides Ralf Schumacher Professor Michael de Wild from the FHNW and Dr. Olivier Braissant of the University of Basel and Matthias Straubhaar of the company Waterjet Robotics in Oftringen .