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Nanoscale bioelectrical characterization

About

The main goal of the Nanoscale Bioelectrical Characterization group is to develop a multiscale approach to Bioelectricity, covering from the nano- to the microscale. To this end the group combines methods and techniques from Scanning Probe Microscopy, Organic Electronics and Big Data. The main objective is to contribute to develop new label-free biological nanoscale characterization methods and new electronic biosensors.

The group performs research on Scanning Dielectric Microscopy, a set of Scanning Probe Microscopy techniques and methods to measure the local dielectric properties of samples. Over the years, implementations of Scanning Dielectric Microscopy in current sensing, force sensing and at microwave frequencies have been developed. In the case of the force sensing mode, operation in air and liquid environments have been implemented.

At present, the group is centered in developing advanced force volume modes for Scanning Dielectric Microscopy coupled to big data computational and processing techniques.

The objective is to obtain fast functional dielectric maps of complex samples (e.g. cells) with nanoscale spatial resolution and with sensitivity to the subsurface properties.

With the Scanning Dielectric Microscope, we investigate the passive dielectric properties of Biological samples. Among others, we have determined the dielectric constant of lipid bilayers, supramolecular protein structures like virus capsids and tails, bacterial flagella and protein layers, and of DNA. Moreover, the dielectric properties of single viruses, bacterial cells and bacterial endospores have been measured, and we analyzed the effect of environmental humidity in their dielectric response. Finally, we have investigated the dielectric properties of confined water, finding an anomalous low dielectric constant value.

At present, applications are focused in determining the dielectric properties of heterogeneous lipid bilayers, liposomes and eukaryotic cells, all of the in the liquid environment. The objective is to develop a nanoscopic technique able to map the composition of complex biological systems without the use of exogeneous labels.

The Scanning Dielectric Microscopy is also used to investigate the electrical properties of the so-called bacterial nanowires, nanoscale structures produced by electrogenic bacterial cells, which enable the exchange of electrons extracellularly at long distances from the bacterial cell body. Current research is focused in the study of the electric properties of outer membrane cell extensions from Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1 and of protein fibers from the so-called cable bacteria cells.

The group also performs research in the application of Electrolyte Gated Field Effect Transistors as biosensors to record the electrical activity of excitable cells. We have demonstrated the potential of these transistors to record the electrical activity of clusters of cardiomyocyte cells over long periods of time (weeks), and, currently, we are investigating its potential application to other cell types (e.g. neurons) and cell structures (e.g. organoids).

Finally, the group is working in the integration of nanoscale and microscale electrical recording techniques for Biology in a single instrument. We have already demonstrated the possibility to integrate the in-liquid Scanning Dielectric Microscope with the Electrolyte Gated Field Effect Transistor, and, currently, we are working in using this platform to perform multiscale electrical recordings on electrically excitable cells with the objective to correlate nano- and microscopic electrical cell activity.

Staff

Gabriel Gomila Lluch
Group Leader
+34 934 020 206
ggomilaibecbarcelona.eu

Former members:

Dr. Laura Fumagalli | Senior Researcher
Now: Lecturer, School of Physics and Astronomy – Condensed Matter Physics, University of Manchester (UK)
Dr. Annalisa Calò | Postdoc
Now: Postdoc, CUNY Advance Science Research Center (USA)
Dr. Aurora Dols-Pérez | Postdoc
Now: Postdoc at the Technical University of Delft (Nederlands)
Dr. Martin Edwards | Postdoc
Now: Research Assistant Professor, University of Utah (USA)
Daniel Esteban Ferrer | PhD Student
Georg Gramse | PhD Student
Now: Senior Researcher, Johannes Kepler University of Linz (Austria)
Dr. Jordi Otero | Postdoc
Now: Postdoc, Institute For Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)

Marc van der Hofstadt | PhD Student
Maria Chiara Biagi | PhD Student

Projects

INTERNATIONAL PROJECTSFINANCERPI
BORGES · Biosensing with ORGanic ElectronicS (2019-2022)Marie Curie Skłodowska European Training Network (MSCA-ITN-ETN)Gabriel Gomila
NATIONAL PROJECTSFINANCERPI
BIGDATASPM ·  Métodos de datos masivos aplicados a la Microscopía de Sonda de Barrido para estudios eléctricos funcionales en ciencias de la vida (2020-2022)MINECO,  Generación Conocimiento: Proyectos I+DGabriel Gomila
FINISHED PROJECTSFINANCERPI
SGR Grups de recerca consolidats (2017-2020)AGAUR / SGRGabriel Gomila
SPM2.0 · Scanning probe microscopies for nanoscale fast, tomographic and composition imaging (2017-2020)Marie Curie Skłodowska European Training Network (MSCA-ITN-ETN)Gabriel Gomila (Project Coordinator)
NANOMICROWAVE · Microwave Nanotechnology for Semiconductor and Life Sciences (2013-2016)MARIE CURIE – ITNGabriel Gomila
V-SMMART Nano · Volumetric Scanning Microwave Microscopy Analytical and Research Tool for Nanotechnology (2012-2016)NMP – SMEGabriel Gomila
AFM4NanoMed&Bio · European network on applications of Atomic Force Microscopy to Nanomedicine and Life SciencesEU COST Action TD1002Gabriel Gomila (Management Committee Substitute Member)
BIOWIRESENSE · Plataforma universal para la detección de biomarcadores basada en nanocables bacterianos conductores (2017-2019)MINECO, Explora CienciaGabriel Gomila
NANOELECTOMOGRAPHY· Electrical nanotomography based on scanning probe microscopy for nanomaterials and biological samples (2014-2016)MINECO (TEC2013-48344-C2-1-P)Gabriel Gomila
NANOELECTROPHYS · Scanning Electric Force Microscope for Electrophysological Recordings at the Nanoscale
(2016-2019)
MINECO (TEC2016-79156-P)Gabriel Gomila
ICREA Academia Award (2015-2019)Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) / Generalitat de CatalunyaGabriel Gomila

Publications

Equipment

  • Cypher Atomic Force Microscope (Asylum Research)
  • Nanowizard 4 Bio-Atomic Force Microscope (JPK)
  • Cervantes Atomic Force Microscope (Nanotec Electronica)
  • Easy Scan 2 Atomic Force Microscope (Nanosurf)
  • AxioImager A1m Reflection Optical Microscope (Zeiss) equipped with a AxioCam ERc5s (Zeiss)
  • CompactStat portable electrochemical interface and impedance analyzer (Ivium Technologies)
  • Palmsens 4, 8 channel Potentiostat (Palmens)
  • 2 eLockIn204 4-phase Lock-In amplifiers (Anfatec)
  • Keithley 6430 sub-femtoAmp remote sourcemeter
  • Keysight B2912A precision Source/Measure Unit, 2 channels
  • Keysight N9310A RF Signal Generator 9 kHz to 3.0 GHz

Collaborations

  • Dra. Laura Fumagalli
    University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Ferry Kienberger
    Agilent Technologies Austria, Linz, Austria
  • Prof. Marco Sampietro
    Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Dr. Jordi Borrell
    University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Antonio Juárez
    University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Manel Puig
    University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Filip Meysman
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Prof. Fabio Biscarini
    Universita di Modena e Regio Emilia, Italy
  • Dra. Marta Mas-Torrents
    Institut de Ciències de Materials de Barcelona, Spain 
  • Dra. Adrica Kyndiah
    Italian Institute of Technology, Italy 

News

Introduction to the vacant position: The Nanobioelec Group/Unit is looking for Research Assistant. The contract will be within the framework of the European Project PRINGLE, whose objective is to develop … Read more

Research Assistant at the Nanoscale bioelectrical characterization group

Introduction to the vacant position: The Nanobioelec Group/Unit is looking for Research Assistant. The contract will be within the framework of the European Project PRINGLE, whose objective is to develop … Read more

An international study co-authored by IBEC’s researchers has identified nickel as a key conductive component in the wires found in cable bacteria. This ground-breaking finding, obtained by combining high-resolution microscopy, spectroscopy and chemical imaging, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

Researchers uncover the reason for “Living wires” extraordinary electrical properties

An international study co-authored by IBEC’s researchers has identified nickel as a key conductive component in the wires found in cable bacteria. This ground-breaking finding, obtained by combining high-resolution microscopy, spectroscopy and chemical imaging, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

IBEC researchers were able to drastically reduce the microscopy images processing time using machine learning tools. By using this new technique, they obtained, in only few seconds, a map of the cellular biochemical composition.

Machine learning applied to microscopy accelerates image processing

IBEC researchers were able to drastically reduce the microscopy images processing time using machine learning tools. By using this new technique, they obtained, in only few seconds, a map of the cellular biochemical composition.

With a new method that combines high-powered scanning force microscopes and machine learning, IBEC researchers have drastically reduced the processing time required to achieve nanoscale biochemical compositions map from electric images of eukaryotic cells in just seconds. Using earlier computation methods, processing one image could take even months.

Machine learning reduces microscope data processing time from months to just seconds

With a new method that combines high-powered scanning force microscopes and machine learning, IBEC researchers have drastically reduced the processing time required to achieve nanoscale biochemical compositions map from electric images of eukaryotic cells in just seconds. Using earlier computation methods, processing one image could take even months.

Aurora Dols and Zaida Álvarez, researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), receive the prestigious fellowships Beatriu de Pinós, awarded by the Catalan Government for the incorporation of highly qualified postdoctoral researchers into the Catalan research system.

Two IBEC researchers receive a Beatriu de Pinós fellowship

Aurora Dols and Zaida Álvarez, researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), receive the prestigious fellowships Beatriu de Pinós, awarded by the Catalan Government for the incorporation of highly qualified postdoctoral researchers into the Catalan research system.

A joint collaboration between the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) and The University of Manchester has succeeded in mapping the electrical properties of organic biosensor/electrolyte interfaces at the nanoscale by measuring local electric forces. Electronic biosensors based on organic materials could make soon a reality the dream of low-cost, disposable, flexible and biocompatible electronic devices for the interaction with biological systems .

Electric forces to characterize future biocompatible organic electronic devices

A joint collaboration between the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) and The University of Manchester has succeeded in mapping the electrical properties of organic biosensor/electrolyte interfaces at the nanoscale by measuring local electric forces. Electronic biosensors based on organic materials could make soon a reality the dream of low-cost, disposable, flexible and biocompatible electronic devices for the interaction with biological systems .

Researchers at IBEC and ICMAB develop a flexible, cheap and biocompatible transistor platform able to record an electrocardiogram of cells and micro-tissues during long periods of time. The platform, based on organic transistor technology (EGOFET), can also measure the effect of drugs on beating cells, as cardiomyocytes, opening the door to several applications such as implantable devices for health.

A research team develop biotransistors able to hear small beats of live

Researchers at IBEC and ICMAB develop a flexible, cheap and biocompatible transistor platform able to record an electrocardiogram of cells and micro-tissues during long periods of time. The platform, based on organic transistor technology (EGOFET), can also measure the effect of drugs on beating cells, as cardiomyocytes, opening the door to several applications such as implantable devices for health.

Research led by the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, with the collaboration with IBEC, reveals that water that’s only a few molecules thick – like the water that covers every surface around us – behaves very differently to normal, ‘bulk’ water. Water is one of the most fascinating substances on Earth.  At the heart of its many unusual properties is its high polarizability – that is, its strong response to an applied electric field.

Water can be dead, electrically speaking

Research led by the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, with the collaboration with IBEC, reveals that water that’s only a few molecules thick – like the water that covers every surface around us – behaves very differently to normal, ‘bulk’ water. Water is one of the most fascinating substances on Earth.  At the heart of its many unusual properties is its high polarizability – that is, its strong response to an applied electric field.

An IBEC group has been awarded EU funding to coordinate a project that aims to train a new generation of researchers in the science and technology of Scanning Probe Microscopes. Thanks to the Marie Curie ITN funding, the ten consortium members of the SPM2.0 European Training Network – located in Spain, France, Austria, the UK and Italy – will be able to provide researchers with state-of-the-art multidisciplinary scientific training in the field of Scanning Probe microscopies, covering basic science to industrial applications, which should enable them to generate new scientific knowledge.

Training the next generation of advanced microscopy experts

An IBEC group has been awarded EU funding to coordinate a project that aims to train a new generation of researchers in the science and technology of Scanning Probe Microscopes. Thanks to the Marie Curie ITN funding, the ten consortium members of the SPM2.0 European Training Network – located in Spain, France, Austria, the UK and Italy – will be able to provide researchers with state-of-the-art multidisciplinary scientific training in the field of Scanning Probe microscopies, covering basic science to industrial applications, which should enable them to generate new scientific knowledge.

An IBEC group has demonstrated, for the first time, that the hydration properties of a single bacterial endospore in varying environmental relative humidity can be determined with high accuracy and reproducibility, and in a non-destructive way, shedding new light on endospore survival strategies. Endospores are recognized as the hardiest form of life on Earth, and are produced by certain bacterial cells in response to a lack of nutrients.

Using EFM to probe the secrets of bacterial endospore survival strategies

An IBEC group has demonstrated, for the first time, that the hydration properties of a single bacterial endospore in varying environmental relative humidity can be determined with high accuracy and reproducibility, and in a non-destructive way, shedding new light on endospore survival strategies. Endospores are recognized as the hardiest form of life on Earth, and are produced by certain bacterial cells in response to a lack of nutrients.

Jobs

Introduction to the vacant position: The Nanobioelec Group is looking for a PhD student to develop his/her PhD thesis project on the modelling of organic electronic biosensors. The contract will … Read more

Predoctoral researcher at the Nanoscale bioelectrical characterization group

Introduction to the vacant position: The Nanobioelec Group is looking for a PhD student to develop his/her PhD thesis project on the modelling of organic electronic biosensors. The contract will … Read more