The AVEKA Group - Specialists in Particle Technology, Engineered
Materials, and Innovative Nanoparticle Applications
By Marie Jorissen, Matthew Hollister
The AVEKA Group is a contract manufacturing and research & development
company that focuses on particle technology. Since being set up in 1994 as a
spin off of 3M's Fine Particle Pilot Plant, the company has grown from an
R&D organization into a major contract manufacturer with three business
sites, 120 employees, over 150,000 sq ft of manufacturing and R&D space and
an expansive portfolio of process technologies and services - many
incorporating the use of nanoparticles.
AVEKA's business model is to work closely with customers
to provide application specific solutions and innovative approaches by applying
particle technology to a wide range of product areas and industries. AVEKA's processing capabilities range from standard particle processing
services including spray drying, screening, and grinding, to more novel
technologies such as surface modification, microencapsulation and dispersion processing. While AVEKA works with particles of all sizes, technologies incorporating
nanoparticles have become an increasingly important part of the service
Top down bead milling to the
nanometer particle size range is now available at AVEKA, Inc. in Woodbury, MN. In June of 2008, AVEKA partnered with Bühler Grinding & Dispersion, a business unit of the Bühler
Technology Group, to open the North American Test Center for Wet Grinding and Dispersion. Bühler AG is a global leader in the
supply of process engineering solutions, especially production technologies for
making foods and engineering materials. The North American Test Center features state-of-the-art Bühler MicroMedia® technology
for nanogrinding applications. This new
milling technique offers exciting innovation possibilities in areas such as
pigment dispersions, ink jet products, ceramics, and nano-additives. Mean particle sizes below 100 nanometers are regularly achieved with some
materials milling below 10 nanometers. AVEKA provides a
wide range of service offerings through the Test Center including grinding trials, dispersion development and toll
Surface modification and particle
coating are other technology areas where nanotechnology is being applied. AVEKA's innovative
Magnetically Assisted Impact Coating (MAIC) system is used to uniformly apply nanoscale particles (e.g., carbon
nanotubes, nanoscale fumed silica, carbon black, etc) to larger core particles.
The MAIC has also been used to apply reactive liquids in nanometer thick layers
to form novel composite engineered particulates. Characteristics such as flow, strength, conductivity, hydrophobicity and bioavailability
can be explored. Technologies for creating re-dispersible nanoparticles through
novel surface modification chemistries have been developed allowing for incorporation
of nanoparticles into new material sets.
services are another part of AVEKA's service
offering featuring particle size distribution analysis of particles from
nanometer to millimeter ranges. Using the new Horiba LB-500 dynamic light
scattering system, the AVEKA
Characterization Services Laboratory can measure particle sizes down to 3
nanometers. Surface area, zeta potential, thermogravimetric analysis, differential
scanning calorimetry, rheology, helium pycnometry and high performance liquid
chromatography are some of the other analytical services available on a per
From lab-scale samples to full-scale production, the AVEKA Group has manufacturing sites and
quality systems to service a wide variety of applications and markets including
specialty chemicals, industrial materials, food and nutraceuticals, pet food,
agriculture, microelectronics, aerospace, personal care, medical and
The above displayed image is a SEM image of a
particle coated with nanoscale fumed silica.
To learn more about particle
technology at the AVEKA Group, call
(651) 730-1729 or visit the website at www.aveka.com.
By Deb Newberry, Eric Hockert
Dakota County Technical College gains a Stronger Foothold in Nanotechnology Education
In 2004 the National Science Foundation awarded a project grant to Dakota
County Technical College to establish the first multi-disciplinary
nanotechnology AAS Degree program in the US. In partnership with the University of Minnesota, DCTC created a 72 credit program with over half
of the credits dedicated to nano-specific courses. [For program information
please visit www.dctc.edu and search word "nanoscience"]. This direction was
influenced by industry input with company representatives stating that they
wanted "Not only employees that could operate the tools of nanotechnology, but
also understood the concepts of properties, interactions and forces at the
nanoscale." The result was a concept rich curriculum that supports extensive
hands-on student learning that has become the "gold standard" for 2 year
nanoscience programs. The impetus behind the degree program and the continuing
improvements to the program is to serve the growing number of companies in Minnesota
needing nano-savvy employees.
Acknowledging the success of the existing nanoscience program, the NSF awarded
a four year grant to DCTC to lead the development of Nano-Link, a Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education. Again partnering
with the University of MN, DCTC has selected partner colleges in MI, IL, WI,
MN and ND to help meet the goals established by the Center. The primary focus
of Nano-Link is to create robust nanotechnology courses and programs at the
partner institutions again to serve the needs of area industries. Dissemination
of nano-content modules will be via the Nano-Link website (www.nano-link.org)
and enable access to validated nano content to high school and college
educators as well as businesses and the public at large. Secondary foci for the
Center include outreach to high school students, professional development for
educators, dissemination of equipment training developed by the University and
non-formal education through presentations and museum exhibits. Finally, of particular
importance to the success of the Center is the establishment of Industry
Advisory Boards; local and Center wide. These Advisory Boards will guide
content modification, skill and knowledge need definition and general support
for the activities of Nano-Link partner institutions.
Nano-Link is in need of industry representatives from MNNano to work with DCTC
and our partners. Your involvement is critical to the success of this (very
visible) NSF Regional Center and the time commitment is adaptable to your
availability and interest. We need Advisory Board members, course content
reviewers, ideas for activities, experiments and student research projects,
student internship sites and classroom guest lecturers. Your involvement
supports our student learning and also provides a knowledgeable workforce for Minnesota.
For additional information about the program or hiring our graduates or to
volunteer as an industry partner please contact Deb Newberry. Ms. Newberry is
the Director and Principal Investigator for the Nano-Link grant and can be
reached at [email protected]
ISurTec Provides Innovative Nanotechnologies for Human Needs
By Robert Hanson, Matthew Hollister
Paul based, privately held, Innovative Surface Technologies, Inc. (ISurTec®),
is in the business of creating and licensing innovative technologies in the
areas of biotechnology and surface modification, frequently by leveraging
properties of nanoscale materials and structures. The company, founded in
December 2004 by Dr. Patrick Guire (a co-founder of SurModics), employs a ten
person scientific staff with expertise in various technical disciplines
including chemistry, polymer chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, material
science, neuroscience and organic synthesis. The company further employs
non-technical staff to provide regulatory, manufacturing, financial, and
business development services. Currently, the company has a 3074 square-foot
laboratory that is equipped with standard equipment to pursue chemistry and
microbiology research. The laboratory further includes thin film coating
equipment, a light chamber for photochemical reactions, shelf freeze
drying equipment, friction testing equipment, and pilot production and
packaging equipment for coating compositions.
ISurTec® utilizes its resources and connections with
other Minnesota-based companies (including Harland Medical Systems, GTUrological,
DiaSorin and Starkey Labs) to make technological advancements in several
emerging market areas. Included in these are thermo-responsive cell culture
surfaces, nanofibrillar synthetic extracelluar matrix (ECM) for tissue
engineering, and liquid repelling fabric and device coatings which rely upon
nanotechnology related concepts.
Nanofibrillar networks are promising as the
nanofibrillar material can provide an in
vivo like structure to which cells will rapidly attach and grow with a
morphology and physiological function similar to such cells in vivo. Cellomic assays, using
mammalian cells grown on such networks, for toxicity are expected to more
nearly represent in vivo effects. The
company is developing a nanofibrillar biocompatible synthetic extracellular
matrix (ECM) that is coated with a thermo-responsive polymer to which bioactive
molecules may be attached. The thermo-responsive polymer will allow attached
cells to be released by lowering the culture temperature, without requiring the
use of harsh chemicals (e.g. trypsin) or physical mechanisms (scrapping) that
have been shown to be harmful to cells. This thermo-responsive coating and
nanofibrillar material can be applied together or separately to any flat
surface (Petri dishes, flasks, roller bottles, etc.) or applied to mirocarriers
used in bioreactors for the production of numerous biologic agents.
Another synthetic ECM is being developed as a
scaffolding material to grow engineered bone tissue. Tissue engineering
promises to change medical practice profoundly, regenerating diseased tissues
and organs instead of surgically repairing or replacing them. The synthetic
nanofiber bone scaffold is biocompatible, biodegradable, porous, mechanically
strong and filled with photoreactive nanofibers ready for biomolecule
conjugation. These scaffolds are easily shaped into different forms (e.g.,
blocks, cylinders, sheets and granules) for optimal handling and use.
Further, various biologically active substances, such as hydroxyapatite and ECM
proteins, may be bound to the fiber network. The specific molecules attached to
the scaffolding are customizable to the requirements of the application.
Another technology in development relates to
liquid-repelling coatings. In this pursuit, scientists at ISurTec® are
taking their cue from nature, in which numerous plants and animals are endowed
with highly efficient water repellent surfaces. Scientists have found that such
surfaces display nanotexture, which greatly decreases the wettability (super-hydrophobicity)
of the surfaces. Based on this concept, ISurTec® has developed novel halogen
free super-hydrophobic nanostructured coatings that provide an excellent water
barrier, as well as coating that are oleophobic (repel oils). Generally, the
coating does not permit formation of a liquid surface; instead liquids simply
bead up and roll off. As the beads roll off, dust and other particles are
swept up and carried away. Several applications for these superhydrophobic
and/or oleophobic coatings being investigated include, preventing moisture
damage to electronic devices, improving water repellency of fabrics, creating
self cleaning fabrics, and reducing fluid retention during liquid transfer.
ISurTec® is also developing technologies for
drug delivery and molecular diagnostics. These include a super-hydrophobic drug
eluting coating, biodegradable drug loaded particles immobilized onto the
surface of medical devices, improved nano/microparticles for genomic and
proteomic assays, improved coatings for microarray assays and lateral flow
The displayed image is ISurTec's photoreactive nanofibers (green) with attached
growing cells (red).
To learn more about ISurTec®, including partnering
opportunities, Dr. Patrick Guire can be reached at [email protected] or visit
the website at www.isurtec.com.
NMAC-Goodrich Collaboration: Induced Magnetic Anisotropy in
By Bethanie Stadler, Shweta Sharma
The Nano and Micro Applications Center (NMAC) at the University of Minnesota (UMN) carries out basic and applied research focused on
advanced Nano & Microsystems development through interdisciplinary
partnerships between academic faculty and industrial researchers. Our 2 year old center allows a reduced
overhead for pre-competitive research collaborations.
article focuses on an industry collaboration with the Advanced Sensors Technical Center at Goodrich
Corporation (Burnsville, MN) and Dr. Bethanie Stadler in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the UMN. The goal of this collaboration
was the growth of magnetostrictive films, specifically those than can hold planar magnetization in one direction more strongly than in others. These films were deposited on MEMS structures for sensor and
Magnetostriction is the ability to
change the length of a material by applying a magnetic field, or conversely to
change its magnetization by physically deforming it. First, allow me to
introduce Galfenol. Galfenol is a family of alloys of iron and gallium that can
lengthen by more than 400ppm when magnetically saturated (single crystal bulk
samples). This may not seem stellar for those who have worked with Terfenol
(iron terbium alloys) which can have four times that magnetostriction. However,
Galfenol retains the ductility and toughness of iron whereas Terfenol is very
brittle, which can reduce its usefulness.
allow a magnetostrictive material to reach its full saturation values, the
material must be aligned prior to magnetization. In Terfenol, this must be done
using a compressive stress which severely complicates device designs. For
example, the center bolt in a sonar transducer is required simply to supply a
compressive stress to the active element which is made of Terfenol. In Galfenol, alignment can be achieved via
pre-annealing so the end device design is greatly simplified.
Goodrich/Stadler NMAC project sought to achieve pre-alignment in Galfenol
films. Thin films often exhibit magnetic anisotropy due to shape effects. Therefore,
these films were not unique in the fact that the direction perpendicular to the
plane of the film was hard to magnetize. What was unusual about these films was
that even in-plane, a magnetic anisotropy was achieved using special growth
parameters. This planar anisotropy will be very useful for highly sensitive sensors
and actuators for medical, industrial and defense applications
For more information on this study please contact Dr. Bethanie Stadler at [email protected] To learn more about NMAC and the services provided visit nmac.umn.edu.
OmegaGenesis Uses Nanotechnology to Promote Growth of New Blood Vessels
By Don Morrison, Benjamin Tramm
OmegaGenesis, Inc. is a biotechnology company founded in February
2008 with the purpose of creating products based on core nano material research
and technology. The company is based in Minnesota and California.
The company's mission is to discover and produce nano-scale
materials that work on the cellular and sub-cellular level to modulate angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels.
These nano-materials will enable doctors to treat disease at the cellular
level, versus at the tissue or systemic level as with conventional therapies,
which is less invasive to the patient.
Angiogenesis is important for several normal and pathophysiological
scenarios including wound healing, cardiovascular diseases and tumor growth and
metastasis. Controlled stimulation of angiogenesis is one of the challenges
clinicians are facing to treat some diseases, including diabetic foot ulcers,
ischemic heart disease, etc.
Recent scientific research revealed a number of nano-materials made
of rare earth elements that can promote angiogenesis. The OmegaGenesis
technology platform is based upon the idea of using the angiogenic properties
of these nano-materials in therapeutic applications.
The OmegaGenesis nano-medicine platform has tremendous therapeutic
potential for a variety of medical applications ranging from healing of common
wounds to controlling the growth and spread of cancer. Rare earth element
nano-materials can potentially be used for wound healing, the treatment of
diabetic foot ulcers, repair of ischemic heart damage and promoting bone
On the other hand, anti-angiogenic nano-materials may effectively
treat cancer by inhibiting a tumor's ability to form new blood vessels,
depriving the tumor of oxygen and nutrition needed to grow and spread to
neighboring tissues. Rare earth element nano-materials may also have additional
applications in medical imaging and diagnostics.
Product development at OmegaGenesis is initially focused on the
area of angiogenesis with future plans to move into the area of
anti-angiogenesis as well as nano-material applications in medical imaging and
OmegaGenesis has established, in laboratory tests, the non-toxicity
of the europium hydroxide nanorods for human applications. The europium
hydroxide nanorods are currently in pre-clinical testing for applications in
wound healing, the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and bone healing. Pre-clinical
studies will conclude in the second quarter of 2009 with clinical studies
anticipated to commence in the second half of 2009.
To learn more about OmegaGenesis, call (408) 846-0956 or visit www.omegagenesis.com.
Seminars at the Center for Nanostructure Applications
Check out the CNA calendar for upcoming seminar topics and dates.
University of Minnesota
Nano Tech 2009
Nanofibres for the 3rd millennium
Join international delegates & speakers for a complete review of the latest trends and progress in nanofiber production technologies and their applications
Prague, Czech Republic
Theoretical Assessment of the Biological Effects of Nanomaterials
March 23-24, 2009
This 2 day event will gather researchers from disciplines of physics, chemistry, biochemistry,
biology, environmental sciences, and medical sciences, to present and discuss their latest research
related to the environmental and biological effects of nanomaterials.
NSTI Nanotech 2009
May 3-7, 2009
Now in its 12th year, this conference is expected to attract more than 5,000 Nano, Micro
and Bio technology executives, to promote advanced
research and best practices, and bring Nanotechnology from the
laboratory to the marketplace.
Euro Nano Forum 09
The topic of the EuroNanoForum 2009 is "Nanotechnology for a Sustainable Economy".
Prague, Czech Republic
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