top  MN Nano ENewsletter
   Nanotechnology for Minnesota's Competitiveness
 Issue # 2 Jan 2009

The AVEKA Group - Specialists in Particle Technology, Engineered Materials, and Innovative Nanoparticle Applications

Aveka Nanocoat ParticleBy 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 offering. 
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 manufacturing.
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. 
Particle characterization 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 sample basis.

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 pharmaceutical.
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


Dakota County Technical College gains a Stronger Foothold in Nanotechnology Education

DakotaCountyTechnicalCollegeBy Deb Newberry, Eric Hockert
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 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 ( 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

Photoreactive nanofibresBy Robert Hanson, Matthew Hollister
St. 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 biosensors.

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

NMAC-Goodrich Collaboration: Induced Magnetic Anisotropy in Magnetostrictive Films

Galfenol films prefer magnetization in one directionBy 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.
This 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 actuator applications.
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.
To 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.

The 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

OmegaGenesis Uses Nanotechnology to Promote Growth of New Blood Vessels

omegagenesis logoBy 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.
The Technology
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 formation.
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 diagnostics.
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

In this Issue
-- The AVEKA Group
-- Dakota County Technical College
-- NMAC-Goodrich Corp. Collaboration
-- ISurTec
-- OmegaGenesis

Upcoming Events

Seminars at the Center for Nanostructure Applications

Check out the CNA calendar for upcoming seminar topics and dates.
University of Minnesota

Nano Tech 2009
Feb 18-20
Tokyo, Japan

Nanofibres for the 3rd millennium
March 11-12
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.
Stockholm, Sweden

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.
Houston, TX

Euro Nano Forum 09
June 2-5
The topic of the EuroNanoForum 2009 is "Nanotechnology for a Sustainable Economy".
Prague, Czech Republic

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Enewsletter Work Group

Shweta Sharma
(MN Nano ENewsletter Chair)
Sr. MEMS Engineer
Goodrich Corporation 
Benjamin Tramm
Intellectual Property Attorney
Merchant & Gould

Eric Hockert
Technology Marketing Manager
University of Minnesota

Matthew Hollister
Technical Advisor 
Merchant & Gould

Marlene Abels
MN Nano Account Executive
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