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.
Gabriel Gomila Lluch
Harishankar Balakrishnan | PhD Student
Maria Chiara Biagi | PhD Student
Marti Checa | PhD Student
Now: Pots-doc at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA)
Dr. Martin Edwards | Postdoc
Now: Research Assistant Professor, University of Utah (USA)
Daniel Esteban Ferrer | PhD Student
Dr. Laura Fumagalli | Senior Researcher
Now: Lecturer, School of Physics and Astronomy – Condensed Matter Physics, University of Manchester (UK)
Georg Gramse | PhD Student
Now: Senior Researcher, Johannes Kepler University of Linz (Austria)
Larisa Huetter | PhD Student
Dr. Adrica Kyndiah | PostdocNow: Senior Scientist at Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Helena Lozano | PhD Student
Martina di Muzzio | PhD Student
Dr. Jordi Otero | Postdoc
Now: Postdoc, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)
Marc Van der Hofstadt | PhD Student
|BORGES · Biosensing with ORGanic ElectronicS (2019-2022)||Marie Curie Skłodowska European Training Network (MSCA-ITN-ETN)||Gabriel Gomila|
|PRINGLE · Protein Based Next Generation Electronics (2022-2026)||European Commission, PathFinder Open||Gabriel Gomila|
|ICREA Academia Award (2023-2027)||Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) / Generalitat de Catalunya||Gabriel Gomila|
|BIGDATASPM · Métodos de datos masivos aplicados a la Microscopía de Sonda de Barrido para estudios eléctricos funcionales en ciencias de la vida (2020-2023)||MINECO, Generación Conocimiento: Proyectos I+D||Gabriel Gomila|
|SGR Grups de recerca consolidats (2017-2020)||AGAUR / SGR||Gabriel 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 – ITN||Gabriel Gomila|
|V-SMMART Nano · Volumetric Scanning Microwave Microscopy Analytical and Research Tool for Nanotechnology (2012-2016)||NMP – SME||Gabriel Gomila|
|AFM4NanoMed&Bio · European network on applications of Atomic Force Microscopy to Nanomedicine and Life Sciences||EU COST Action TD1002||Gabriel Gomila (Management Committee Substitute Member)|
|BIOWIRESENSE · Plataforma universal para la detección de biomarcadores basada en nanocables bacterianos conductores (2017-2019)||MINECO, Explora Ciencia||Gabriel 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|
|MINECO (TEC2016-79156-P)||Gabriel Gomila|
|ICREA Academia Award (2015-2019)||Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) / Generalitat de Catalunya||Gabriel Gomila|
- 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
- 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
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.