Researchers in Jena and Bremen are planning something similar. However, their work is not with athletes but with tiny somatic cells. The experts have developed a low-cost optical sensor to measure the force with which migrating cells push themselves away from an underlying surface.
Force analysis devices like these could one day help to identify specific cell types – more reliably than using a microscope or other conventional methods.
The sensor is the outcome of an EU project. It consists of a smooth surface that is studded with 250,000 tiny plastic columns measuring only five microns in diameter, rather like a fakir’s bed of nails. These columns are made of elastic polyurethane plastic. When a cell glides across them, it bends them very slightly sideways. This deflection is registered by a digital camera and analyzed by a special software program.
The researchers working with project manager Dr. Norbert Danz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena have already shown that their ‘Cellforce’ sensor works. It will be the task of initial biological tests to show how different cell types behave. “Analysis of cell locomotion is important for numerous applications,” says Danz. “It could be used to check whether bone cells are successfully populating an implant, or how well a wound is healing.”
Developing the sensor was no easy undertaking. For one thing, the columns have to be coated in such a way that living cells are happy to move across their tips. The cells would otherwise avoid the tips and continue their journey lower down between the columns. In that case, there would be no deflection at all. Danz had the task of adapting the microscope required for cell magnification to make it exactly right for the application.
Building the delicate column structure developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM in Bremen is no less tricky: The researchers press liquid plastic at a pressure of 2000 bar into a negative mold and allow it to harden. It is a challenge even to manufacture the required mold, with its 250,000 micron-sized holes.
To allow cost-effective production of the ‘Cellforce’ sensor in future, the researchers utilize commercially available plastics and well-established techniques from chip manufacture. The first ‘Cellforce’ prototype is expected to be ready in a year’s time.
Monika Weiner | alfa
Visualizing gene expression with MRI
23.12.2016 | California Institute of Technology
Illuminating cancer: Researchers invent a pH threshold sensor to improve cancer surgery
21.12.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Information Technology
18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation