The program for the international MicroNanoConference 2021 is well underway with speakers from academia and industry. On December 2 and 3, 2021 we look forward to meeting you on location in Utrecht, at the Jaarbeurs.

This year’s main theme is: From science to market – scale-up in nanotech

With these sub sessions, that you will find in the program:

  • Nano4Health & Life Sciences
  • Nano4Agri& Food
  • Scale-up in nanotechnology
  • Miniturization in nanotechnology
  • Manufacturing in nanotechnology
  • Life after PhD

Tickets are now available at an early bird rate and it is now also possible to submit an abstract for either a poster or oral presentation at the conference. Read more about the program, tickets and abstract submission on the iMNC21 website.

For companies who would like to both support the micro- nano community and also showcase their company to this community, sponsor and exhibitor opportunities will be published soon.

Read more: micronanoconference.org

On Monday 14 June the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Mona Keijzer, visited the Quantum Delta NL Center for Quantum Materials and Technology in Eindhoven. During this working visit she was shown some of the cutting edge research projects and laboratories that stand to benefit directly from the € 615 million award from the National Growth Fund.

Alongside the discussions on Quantum, there was some time to focus on the unique open infrastructure that puts The Netherlands at the forefront of innovation in quantum- and nanotechnology. Out of the € 615 million NGF award, € 150 million is reserved for maintaining and developing this infrastructure. Prof. Guus Rijnders, chairman of NanoLabNL and member of the supervisory board of Quantum Delta, explained from first-hand experience why and how NanoLabNL develops and maintains a thriving technological ecosystem.

Guus Rijnders also offered Mrs. Keijzer the first edition of the newly published NanoLabNL Manifesto; a broad testimony that focuses on the importance of open access high-tech cleanrooms, facilities and equipment, important for education, research, technology development and transfer. NanoLabNL is crucial in maintaining our leading position in many current and future science, as well as research & innovation, that rely on micro and nano fabrication. He expressed his appreciation for the financial support and urged the State Secretary to keep the subject of a healthy and viable scientific climate high on the political agenda.

Download the manifesto

The Netherlands has a strong position in photonics. Taiwan also spends a lot research capacity on photonics. Taiwan is one of the markets where the Dutch photonics sector positions itself in a public-private context, both in terms of technological cooperation and business development. Taiwan has an excellent position in semiconductor production and, partly due to global climate developments, faces many societal challenges that photonic innovations can help solve. The Netherlands and Taiwan can benefit from each other’s strengths.

This call is open to academia from the photonics community in The Netherlands and Taiwan. It aims to give an impulse to photonics research in both economies to stimulate (new) collaborations between the two science communities, and to learn from each other’s approaches solving blocking issues for the future.

Eligible consortia are composed of researchers based in The Netherlands and in Taiwan, with active involvement in the project of a main applicant on both the Dutch and the Taiwanese side. The consortium must also include at least one industry partner on both sides.

The main applicants and consortia can apply for funds for a project with a maximum duration of five years. Each project consists of a Dutch work package and a Taiwanese work package. Per project, a maximum of k€ 750 can be requested from NWO for the Dutch work package, and a maximum of NT$ 3M per year can be requested from MOST for the Taiwanese work package.

The deadline to submit your full proposal is 9 November 2021, 14:00:00 CEST.

Read more and download the full call information on the NWO site.

From Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 September, FHI and its partners will not only organize the Electronics & Applications trade fair, but also the brand new LabNL, both in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. During LabNL you will be informed about the latest innovations in the laboratory world, while visitors to E&A will experience the state of affairs in the electronics chain. Both fairs can be visited free of charge. 

LabNL focuses on lab managers, lab technicians, researchers and purchasers of lab equipment. Suppliers and manufacturers are ready on the exhibition floor to show you their latest innovations. 

LabNL’s scientifically oriented conference program deals with three overarching themes: lab automation, analytical techniques and life sciences. You can consult the list of speakers via the LabNL website and after registration you can visit LabNL for free. [registration will open on June 10] 

Electronics & Applications 2021 shows the visitor the latest state of affairs in the electronics industry. You can also follow the ‘Best solderer in the Benelux’ competition on the exhibition floor. The exhibition gadget, the E&A-Parrot, is also popular with visitors. 

Like LabNL, E&A offers an extensive conference program in which many current topics are discussed. Think of 5G, energy transition and hardware design. Registration for E&A is free. 

Read more about LabNL de Lab Beurs

Figure 1: Photonic biosensor chips with integrated light sources on printed circuit boards.

How to build a photonic biosensing diagnostics chip using vertical integration

This week, diagnostics company Surfix BV along with LioniX International and a consortium of Dutch partners announced an €8.5 investment for photonic biosensor development for covid-19 detection and early cancer diagnostics.

LioniX International play a key role in the partnership, which also includes Qurin Diagnostics BV, industry accelerator PhotonDelta and the East Netherlands Development Agency, Oost NL. Using vertically integrated expertise we have developed a technology platform that speaks to the pressing needs of the biosensing market.

But what exactly are those needs? And how does LioniX International’s approach to product development serve innovation in this cutting edge application? In this article we examine the drivers for biosensing innovation, the benefits of photonic biosensing and the unique mix of expertise LioniX International is contributing to its development.

The case for sensitive point of need testing 

Biosensors have the power to save lives through early and accurate diagnosis and effective treatment monitoring. Similarly, in veterinary, agriculture, feed and food production applications, biosensing can secure food safety and security, protect stocks and ensure animal welfare.

An effective test must provide accurate information and do so within a relevant timeframe or risk unacceptable consequences. On the other hand, testing speed is also paramount. In the diagnosis of sepsis – a leading cause of death in emergency wards – a delay of hours can severely increase the likelihood of death.

Meeting both the sensitivity and speed criteria with the same test is tricky. The most sensitive tests rely on central laboratories that can be far from the point of need. Moreover, tests that require specialist sample preparation increase turnaround time, rely on trained staff and introduce more possibilities for sample degradation.

Conversely, common point-of-need tests can lack the sensitivity and reliability required for certain applications. A greater issue is that they are fundamentally incapable of testing for a specific subset of biological markers. The technology for antibody or hormone-based lateral flow tests for example (such as the Covid-19 antibody test or home pregnancy test) will never be suitable for tests that look for specific DNA strands or for particularly low concentrations of biomolecules.

Photonic chip biosensing platforms promise not only sensitivity and speed but the flexibility to be configured to detect different analytes for applications from Covid-19 testing to water quality monitoring.

Biosensing basics

Biosensors detect particular biological compounds (or analytes) in a sample. To do this a biosensor combines two parts. The first, a biochemical component, is chosen for its ability to bind with the target analyte. The second is component that can detect and transmit information about the miniscule physical changes that result from this binding.

In photonic chip biosensing, the biochemical component is applied to the surface of a waveguide (think microscopic glass fibre fabricated on a chip) carrying a light signal. In this case, the binding of an analyte changes the way light travels through the waveguide, altering the light signal in way that can be read out by an instrument. Different components operate on different principles. Some detect changes in the absorption of light, others detect changes in the refractive index of the sensor material resulting from analyte binding.

A 100X increase in chip sensitivity for photonic biosensors 

In its collaboration with Surfix BV and Qurin Diagnostics LioniX International has developed the most sensitive chip-based photonic biosensing component that is up to 100 times more sensitive than the state of the art. The technology uses refractive index sensing based on a building block known as an asymmetric Mach Zehnder Interferometer (or aMZI).

The particular strength of such aMZIs building blocks for biosensing is that their sensitivity is partly a function of their dimensions. Therefore, with careful photonic engineering, LioniX International have maximised the component sensitivity in a way is not possible with other chip-based components.

Figure 3 (left): Close up of biochip surface showing the coiled waveguides individual aMZIs transducers. Figure 4 (right): The functionalised surface of the aMZI transducer with biorecognition agents applied on the waveguide surface. Image courtesy of Surfix BV.

Multiplexing is easy with photonic biosensors

The ease with which photonic transducers can be duplicated as sensor building blocks makes them particularly suited for an important biosensing technique called multiplexing. Multiplexing makes for more powerful diagnostic or prognostic testing by simultaneously targeting more than one specific analyte in a sample.

In a multiplexed photonic chip biosensor, any number of generic transducers can be functionalized with a different biochemical compounds, with no fundamental limitation to the compounds that can be used.

From design to device

To develop a technology platform that meets the very specific needs of the biosensing market, LioniX International have drawn on broad expertise from beyond photonics. This has required two approaches to knowledge integration: vertical integration of internal capabilities and horizontal integration of specialist partner expertise.

Vertical integration is the lifeblood of our development process. For the photonic biosensing platform developed for Surfix, we combined expertise in photonics with electronics, fluidics and instrument design. This approach enabled us to develop modules that help Surfix directly address market needs – usability, test reliability robustness and volume manufacturability. Vitally for a commercial product, this approach also ensures that modules are built with a view to volume scalability.

Our partnership with Surfix and Qurin also brought external expertise, vital for two reasons. Firstly, innovation at the forefront of a field relies on access to highly specialised knowledge. The expertise and intellectual property required from different domains like biochemistry, nanotechnology and photonics would be very nearly impossible for a single company to accumulate on its own.

Secondly, close collaboration is vital if LioniX International is to continually develop its understanding of how core capabilities can be applied to new challenges. For example, in collaborating on biochemical surface coatings for photonic chip biosensors, we have come to understand the parameters that limit this technology. By doing so we have been able to develop complimentary electronics fluidics, sample preparation and instrumentation solutions that would have not been possible otherwise. This not only benefits our biosensing partnership, but adds to the body of expertise we can rely on to support other customers bringing technology to market.

R&D for effective product development

To offer value to customers through vertically integrated product development, we need to ensure we can bring serious expertise to the table. The source of this expertise lies not only in product development experience, but also in our own research and development projects.

One such recent project, the EU-funded BioCDX, provided foundational knowledge for photonic biosensor cartridge development. In addition to novel photonic aspects of the sensor, the cartridge design included integrated fluidic syringes for liquid handling and sample preparation and integrated low-cost light sources on the biosensor chip for easy interfacing with a desktop reader.

Figure 5: A low cost injection moulded cartridge (left) with aMZI biosensor chip. The cartridge features integrated microfluidic interfaces (mechanical syringes), blood sample preparation and light source integrated on the biosensor chip. These features make for simple interfacing with a desktop reader instrument (right). Images courtesy of CSEM/BioCDX.

Summary

Integrated photonics is playing a vital role in exciting developments in biosensing. The combination of sensitivity, testing speed and compatibility with a range of target molecules make photonic biosensors attractive in a wide range of medical and non-medical applications.

Despite pressing needs and compelling applications, the use case for biosensors is complex. To develop a cost-effective solution that can outperform existing technology, LioniX International have had to capture expertise that has both high degrees of breadth and specialism. Both are a core aspect of how we do business.

Vertical integration provides the means to develop not just photonic chips, but whole technology solutions. These solutions come in the form of assembled modules incorporating photonics, fluidics and electronics.

Whilst vertical integration leverages internal expertise, partnerships drive the necessary understanding of application required to co-develop cutting edge products.

Whether in biosensing or beyond, this approach to innovation and product development has proven impact. Through vertical integration from design to device, LioniX International is bringing the power of integrated photonics to a range of demanding applications.

References

Chatzipetrou, M.; Gounaridis, L.; Tsekenis, G.; Dimadi, M.; Vestering-Stenger, R.; F. Schreuder, E.; Trilling, A.; Besselink, G.; Scheres, L.; van der Meer, A.; Lindhout, E.; G. Heideman, R.; Leeuwis, H.; Graf, S.; Volden, T.; Ningler, M.; Kouloumentas, C.; Strehle, C.; Revol, V.; Klinakis, A.; Avramopoulos, H.; Zergioti, I. A Miniature Bio-Photonics Companion Diagnostics Platform for Reliable Cancer Treatment Monitoring in Blood Fluids. Sensors2021, 21, 2230. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21062230

The construction of the Dutch “national headquarters” for quantum technology has begun. Located at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) campus, the House of Quantum will put scientists, students, entrepreneurs and financiers in close quarters, in hopes of creating a smooth ecosystem that will accelerate the technology’s development and adoption. It will also feature the Living Lab Quantum and Society: an environment where stakeholders come together to develop ethical, legal and social standards surrounding quantum technology.

Credit: Marieke de Lorijn

“With the House of Quantum, we’re taking the next important step in building the best ecosystem for quantum technology in Europe. It’s great to soon have a place where our program comes together physically. This really will be our business card to the world,” says Freeke Heijman, director of Quantum Delta NL, a public-private partnership tasked with bolstering Dutch quantum activities. The consortium was recently awarded 615 million euros in funding from the National Growth Fund.

Source news: Bits&Chips

For the next months I will join and support the MinacNed community for 2-3 days a week. My focus will be on acquisition of new MinacNed members and of course to be in touch with existing members. For this Aurélie Veltema, Paul Petersen, the board of MinacNed and I will work closely together for MinacNed.

My name is Ingo te Duits, age 60 and living with Ada in Purmerland. I studied Biology in Utrecht (electrophysiology, toxicology/pharmacology) and did an MBA. The last 30 years I did work for VWR International; the last years as ‘Vice President & Managing director the Netherlands and Belgium’.

The FHI I know rather well. For 10 years I was a board member of the branch organization ‘Laboratory Technology’ and currently for Stichting RTA (Foundation for recycling of technological equipment). The last months I have supported the branch organization for Medical Technology at FHI, to establish ‘Stichting GOZ’ (Stichting Gecertificeerd Onderhoud Zorgsector).

So MinacNed was not new for me ….. although …? The last week Aurélie en Paul have introduced me in the MinacNed Association or better said the scientific, technical, commercial, complex, diverse, public and industrial micro-nano eco-system in MinacNed. Al “rather new” and for me (personally) remarkably interesting and on high level comparable with other FHI societies and market trends.

I look forward to getting into contact with you in the coming weeks, in personal or by mail, phone. For now, I have one question for you:  help Aurélie and me to understand your world, your organization and the challenges you face. We will do our best to help grow the community, to continue and have an interesting  and  valuable program of events and to provide members services.

Do not hesitate to mail, phone me or Aurélie with and any questions, ideas, or proposals you may have. In Dutch we would call this an ‘open door remark’, but only with your support and proactiveness we can grow the MinacNed ecosystem.

Ingo te DuitsLooking forward to seeing and meeting you in person.

With best l regards,
Ingo te Duits
Mail: ingo.te.duits@minacned.nl

New Photonic Integration Technology Center (PITC) to advance innovations for global technological and societal challenges with revolutionary chip technology.

On 2 June 2021, the integrated photonics industry accelerator PhotonDelta, research institute TNO, Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Twente will sign a cooperation agreement for the new Photonic Integration Technology Center (PITC) in the Netherlands. This centre will speed up the commercialisation of Integrated Photonics for applications such as autonomous mobility, healthcare, data & communications. The signing will be part of an online launch event which is open to everyone who has registered through https://pitc.nl/launch/
Integrated Photonics represents a revolutionary technology that allows the development of chips that can sense, capture and process huge amounts of data using light instead of electricity. By using light we can create new types of devices and systems, complementary to those that use electronics. Photonic integrated circuits pave the way for devices and systems that are cheaper, faster, lighter, more robust and reliable while using less energy. This opens new perspectives for developing purposeful digital solutions.

Bridging the gap between research and application

The new PITC is an independent R&D and innovation centre that brings photonic technologies to industrial maturity, builds partnerships, strengthens the photonics ecosystem, and links it to a global customer base.

Accelerating commercial adoption of integrated photonics

Customers get access to technology and know-how at an early stage while sharing the costs and risk of new technology development. The jointly developed innovations will be extensively tested for reliability and stability, facilitating the route to production.

Integrated photonics is a key enabling technology with a wide spectrum of applications allowing to respond promptly and efficiently to societal challenges of today and tomorrow.” says Carlos Lee, General Director of European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), “The Photonic Integration Technology Center brings the integrated photonics to a level that it can be easily adopted by industry. This great ambition makes the PITC a perfect fit to the EPIC ecosystem.”
PITC offering

Specific PITC tasks will be:

  1. Developing technology in shared innovation programs
  2. Ensuring a smooth path to manufacturing ans commercialisation
  3. Providing access to high-tech infrastructure and facilities
  4. Supporting talent development for skilled professionals that build tomorrow’s high-tech ecosystem in the Netherlands.

PITC is a cooperation between PhotonDelta, TNO, University of Twente and Eindhoven University of Technology, and is enabled by Brainport Development, the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate, regional growth accelerators BOM and OostNL and the provinces of Noord-Brabant, Overijssel and Gelderland. PITC is located on the premises of Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Original press release PITC

New investment in light-powered biosensor accelerates the availability of high quality – low cost tests for early detection of cancer, Covid-19 and other diseases

 Surfix announces an investment of € 8,5 million by a Dutch consortium consisting of companies Qurin Diagnostics and LioniX International, industry accelerator PhotonDelta and the East Netherlands Development Agency Oost NL for further development of Surfix’s plug-and-play diagnostics platform.

Surfix will use the investment to accelerate the development of its fast, reliable and attractive plug-and-play diagnostics platform for all sorts of point-of-care tests. The initial target applications are early cancer diagnosis, Covid-19 detection and tracing of pathogens in water for aquaculture. 

 Wageningen, The Netherlands, May 25th, 2021

Low cost tests available for the masses

The global Covid-19 pandemic underlines the need for fast and reliable point-of-care diagnostics anytime and anywhere. Also in areas where there is no hospital, clinic or trained medical staff available. A sample taken from the patient is tested on the spot, next to the hospital bed, in the doctor’s office or even at home. Within minutes the result is visible and appropriate action can be taken. It is convenient, in some cases lifesaving, and there is no time-consuming and expensive laboratory work or equipment involved. The availability of a quick and reliable test would mean a huge step forward in the fight against the current and future pandemics. The ultimate goal for Surfix is to make a test that is available for the masses and at the cost of only a few euros.

Unique diagnostics platform

The biosensor of Surfix consists of two significant elements: the most crucial part is the chip in which the actual sensing occurs. The other part is the microfluidics part, in which the biological assay takes place in a small sample volume.

In the sensing part light passes through the chip (comparable to a minuscule glass-fiber spiral) instead of electricity. Biomolecules attached to the surface of the chip can catch other biomolecules out of a sample (for instance blood or urine), based on biorecognition. This causes a change in the properties of the light that is traveling through the chip, which can be detected and read by the sensor system. This change is a measure of  the presence of the biomolecule in the sample one is looking for.

Before entering the sensing part of the sensor, any sample needs to be processed (comparable to a very small laboratory). This takes place in microfluidic channels which feed the sample into the sensing part.

For the sensing part Surfix has developed unique nano-coatings which enable the binding of biomolecules and enhance the sensitivity of the sensor, while the microfluidic part is covered with a different nano-coating that repels biomolecules and enhances the flow of the sample through the microfluidic channels.

The plug-and-play diagnostics platform can be used to detect viruses, DNA and RNA, proteins like antibodies and antigens, and other biomolecules.

Combination of Dutch technology

The plug-and-play diagnostics platform combines LioniX’s integrated photonics chip with Surfix’s nanocoatings for the proper functioning of both the sensing part and the microfluidics part. Integrated photonics is a revolutionary technology that allows the development of chips that can sense, capture and process huge amounts of data with light instead of electricity. Using light means that new types of devices and systems such as biosensors can be created that are radically cheaper, faster, smaller, more robust and reliable while using less energy. Qurin will be the launching customer for the platform in the field of cancer diagnostics in a screening setting on a regular basis for the entire adult population. This way Surfix hopes to contribute to the early detection and cure of the cancer patient. Qurin’s novel biomarker technology aims to detect most if not all  cancer types in urine, including lung cancer and cancer of the large bowel.

 

Maarten Buijs, CEO of Surfix, is excited about the investment: “With this development, we have deepened our relationship with parent companies LioniX and Qurin, both University of Twente spin-offs. With OostNL and PhotonDelta  on board our drive is to bring point-of-care diagnostics to the next level. In combination with the network and experience of the two Dutch public-private organizations, the leading-edge integrated photonics technology of LioniX and the medical knowledge of Qurin, the investment will allow us to take on the industrialization of our solution and clinically validate the exciting results in biomarker detection obtained to date”.

Senior Investment Manager Tech Pieter Klinkert of Oost NL shares the excitement: “The solution of Surfix supports the important ecosystem of photonic biochips and microfluidics which Oost NL acknowledges as key enabling technologies. Surfix can realize a breakthrough in the field of diagnostics based on photonics. Surfix is a spin-off company of Wageningen University & Research and is actively collaborating with WUR and the photonics cluster in Twente. This makes it a perfect fit for the network around photonics and MedTech in the east of the Netherlands.

How can we ensure that the food that is produced lasts longer, food waste is decreased and a better distribution of the food among all population groups is ensured? During the MinacNed member event on May 20, the talks were on the application of nanotechnology in plastic food packaging. The technical presentations on the science behind the innovation, but the goal of the speakers is clear: Increase the sustainability of our food and reduce the plastic waste mountain in order to contribute to a better world.

Dr Albert Schenning from Eindhoven University of Technology and PhD student Ivanna Colijn, Wageningen University have shared a clear story that can still be seen for those who missed it. The presentations were followed by an interesting discussion with questions from the participants.

Read more about the invited speakers on the event page.

Share your own idea for a theme

The MinacNed events are organized for and by MinacNed members. Once a month MinacNed organizes an event around a technical or social theme in micro and nanotechnology.

If you have an idea for an event or if you have a question that you would like to tackle with experts, please send a message to MinacNed. The MinacNed member events are for and by members and we are happy to think along with you about speakers and the content of the event.

Contact us direct to share your ideas.