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Australian Nanotechnology Alliance

In This Issue

Research News

Starpharma Commences Bacterial Vaginosis Prevention Study of VivaGel®
Starpharma has announced the positive results of its first study of VivaGel® for the treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), which showed that the product successfully treated patients suffering the illness, with very high levels of patient acceptability
Griffith University’s QMNC signs Joint Development Agreement to develop Silicon Carbide on Silicon technology
Griffith University’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre (QMNC) recently announced a joint development agreement with SPP Process Technology Systems (SPTS) targeting the commercialisation of Silicon Carbide (SiC) on Silicon (Si) technology.
Quantum sensor tracked in human cells could aid drug discovery
Groundbreaking research has shown a quantum atom can be tracked inside a living human cell, which could lead to improvements in the testing and development of new drugs.

Sensational Materials

Polymer capsules for dual-responsive drug delivery
University of Melbourne researchers have reported significant results in targeted drug delivery technology, demonstrating how several independent release mechanisms can be brought together and synergistically function to tune cargo release profiles.
Nanotechnology pushes battery life further
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have made a breakthrough in battery technology by combining piezoelectrics with thin film technology.

Chair's Corner

Ian Gentle

In recent times the board of the ANA has been boosted with several young Directors including our new Vice-President Aidan Dargan (Boeing) and Secretary Isaac Spedding (Acme Nano Products). Both in their 30s, they have come on board with energy and commitment to the ANA and to getting the nanotechnology message into the community.

Aidan is working on getting the Executive Series of networking events back into a regular program. In fact Aidan himself was one of the speakers at a recent Brisbane event on innovation in the aviation industry, in a seminar that would not have been possible without the support of Davis Collison Cave patent attorneys. Meanwhile, Isaac is working on a new membership strategy.

Being a voluntary organisation we depend on the goodwill of so many people, so if you are interested in taking on a role within the ANA or assisting with our many activities, I would encourage you to contact me.

Another of our new Directors is Andrew Dark of Fisher Adams Kelly. Andrew has worked in the intellectual property field for over 20 years and in the last year has established the Australian Patents Forum on the networking site LinkedIn. Through the Forum he advises of changes to patent law and practice in Australia. While for many of us the language of intellectual property law and patents is far outside our scientific vocabulary, the reality is that we need to keep up to date with changes.

Of particular interest to me was Andrew’s discussion of a Bill that has been introduced to Federal Parliament recently. The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011 was introduced in June and in Andrew’s opinion will probably result in the most important legislative changes since the commencement of the current Patents Act in 1990.

As you may tell from the title, “Raising the Bar&rqduo;, many of the changes aim to raise the standard of subject matter that can be patented in Australia. This will move our patent system closer to that seen in the United States and Europe.

For those conducting research, of particular interest will be the introduction of explicit provisions exempting patent infringement in situations where patented technology is used for experimental purposes. Hopefully this proposed change to the legislation will progress through parliament to provide those of us in research greater opportunities to involve patented technology in the course of our endeavors.

As it may be of some interest to our readers, Andrew’s summary of the 120 plus page document is set out below.

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011 is divided into six sections:

  • Raising the quality of granted patents;
  • Free access to patented inventions for research and regulatory activities;
  • Reducing delays in resolution of patent and trade mark applications;
  • Assisting the operations of the IP profession;
  • Improving mechanisms for trade mark and copyright enforcement; and
  • Simplifying the IP system.

I would encourage you to keep up to date with this Bill, and we will place more information on Andrew’s background paper on the ANA website.

I’m just an email or phone call away (07 3365 3829 or i.gentle@uq.edu.au).

Ian Gentle (Professor)
Chariman - Australian Nanotechnology Alliance


Event Calendar

October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2011

For more information on international conferences in minerals, metals & materials click here


Notice Board

Go8 European Fellowships – call for applications: The Group of Eight (Go8) has opened applications for its 2012 European Fellowships. The Fellowships are open to early career researchers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia. And for the first the fellowships will also be open to applicants from Russia.

Each fellow will receive benefits worth up to $20,000 to travel to Australia in 2012 and work at a Go8 university for up to six months. Applications close on 21 October 2011.

Detailed information for applicants is available at http://go8.edu.au/university-staff/programs-_and_-fellowships-1


Australian Synchrotron Beamtime Applications August 2011: Beamtime submissions for round 2012/1 (January-May 2012) open on 31 August 2011.

Users who applied for beamtime in round 2011/3 (September-December 2011) will be notified from mid-August. Key dates for beamtime submissions are listed on the synchrotron website at: http://synchrotron.org.au/index.php/features/applying-for-beamtime/proposal-deadlines. For more information about applying for beamtime at the Australian Synchrotron, contact the User Office: user.office@synchrotron.org.au


Australian Laureate Fellows for 2011 announced: Australian Laureate Fellowships worth over $44 million have been awarded to 17 Australian and overseas researchers. Included in the successful Fellows includes Professor Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong, Director of the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Executive Research Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES)


The Australian Academy of Science has opened the call for applications for the project Australian participation in European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST). In order to deliver the project, the Academy and COST have signed a reciprocal agreement for Australian and European scientists to participate in COST Actions (cost.esf.org/about_cost). Under the terms of the agreement and COST guidelines, Australia is regarded as a country with reciprocal arrangements.


$50,000 CSL Florey Medal Nominations Open: AIPS is looking for Australian researchers who have had significant achievements in biomedical science and/or in advancing human health to receive the $50,000 CSL Florey Medal - read more


Visit to the National Institutes of Health in the USA for a Junior Scientist: The Australian Academy of Science invites Expressions of Interest from junior scientists who are no more than 30 years of age at the time of application, to visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States of America. Proposals in any health-related field of natural science will be considered. Only Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia living in Australia at the time of application are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications close 30 September 2011 for travel in 2012. Further information and application forms are available on the Academy’s website - http://science.org.au/internat/americas/berry.html


Call for applications for Australia-India Strategic Research Fund: The Australian Government has called for applications under Round Six o fht eaustrlaia-India Strategic Research Fund, which provides support to Australian and Indian scientists for the conduct of joint research projects and workshops in specified research areas. There are two components of the Fund for which applications are being southt: (a) the Indio-Australian Fund for Scientific and Technologal Cooperation and (b) The Indo-Australian Fund for Scintific and Technological Cooperation in Biotechnology. Read more


Australian Nanotechnology Alliance
8/108-110 Boyce Road
MAROUBRA NSW 2035

Phone: 0413 441 276 • Email: info@nanotechnology.org.auWeb: www.nanotechnology.org.au

Newsletter Editor: Gary Day


Research News

Starpharma Commences Bacterial Vaginosis Prevention Study of VivaGel®

Starpharma has announced the positive results of its first study of VivaGel® for the treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), which showed that the product successfully treated patients suffering the illness, with very high levels of patient acceptability.

BV is caused by a disruption to the delicate balance of the vaginal bacteria, so that the bacteria that help maintain a normal healthy vagina are reduced and harmful bacteria overgrow. The symptoms of BV include vaginal irritation, discharge and odour that are unpleasant and disrupt a woman’s quality of life. Relapse or recurrence of BV is extremely common following treatment with existing antibiotics, and long-term use of these existing products is not recommended.

Further discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulators on the development of VivaGel® for the treatment of BV will occur over the next few months, with Phase 3 studies for BV treatment to follow.

The primary objective of the study is to determine the efficacy of two strengths of VivaGel® (1% and 3%) compared with a placebo gel in preventing recurrence of BV. While the duration of use of the product in this study is 16 weeks, it is intended that women could use the product as a long-term prevention tool if proven effective.

This new phase of the program will investigate the ability of VivaGel® to prevent recurrence of BV, which clinicians have identified as lacking in current available treatments. The trial will be conducted in women with a prior history of recurrent BV, and the product will be used every second day. The study will be conducted under an investigational new drug application (IND) at sites in US and will enroll approximately 200 women. Clinical trial sites have been fully assessed, and the first patient is expected to be enrolled later this month.

The global market for topical BV treatments alone is estimated at approximately US$350M. Starpharma's modeling suggests the addressable global market for prevention of recurrence of BV is potentially in excess of $1 billion, due to the long term usage associated with such a product. ?Dr Jackie Fairley, Chief Executive Officer of Starpharma believes that there are currently very few proven options for women who wish to prevent recurrence of BV. Clinical experts in this field have repeatedly expressed the need for products to prevent the recurrence of this condition and so the commencement of this program is an important step in the development of VivaGel® and the management of the condition

Source: Media release ‘Nanotechnology Now’, 18 August 2011

Australia's Griffith University’s QMNC signs Joint Development Agreement to develop Silicon Carbide (SiC) on Silicon technology

Griffith University’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre (QMNC) recently announced a joint development agreement with SPP Process Technology Systems (SPTS) targeting the commercialisation of Silicon Carbide (SiC) on Silicon (Si) technology.

SiC on Si substrates has a wide variety of applications for the rapidly growing markets of light-emitting diodes (LED), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and Power markets. It is also an important substrate for growing GaN films (Gallium nitride) used to manufacture LEDs. The increased radiation hardness, mechanical strength and thermal properties of SiC also make it a suitable replacement for silicon in MEMS devices for harsh environments. In addition, SiC is used to create semiconductor devices for high power, high frequency applications where the electrical properties of SiC are significantly superior to common silicon.

Technology created by the research team at Queensland Microtechnology Facility (QMF) of Griffith University's QMNC has demonstrated the ability to grow crystalline SiC directly onto low cost silicon wafers. Through the agreement, SPTS will develop the thermal process and equipment expertise necessary to commercialise the technology.

Three key technologies required for SiC on Si devices are SiC deposition, etch and oxidation. The QMNC has commercially orientated research into all these areas. This new agreement will enable the QMNC to transfer their SiC deposition process technology to device research and development activities, and provides a bridge to volume production through batch processing for up to 300mm diameter Si wafers. SPTS's strength in thermal processing makes them an ideal partner.

Sima Dimitrijev, Project Leader and Deputy Director of QMNC said the agreement was an important step in the commercialisation of QMNC’s SiC research efforts, especially with a partner with the global reach of SPTS.

SPP Process Technology Systems (SPTS) is a leading manufacturer of plasma etch and deposition, and thermal processing equipment for the semiconductor and related industries.

Source: This story based on a media release which appeared on “Nanotechnology Now&rqduo;, 27 May 2011

Quantum sensor tracked in human cells could aid drug discovery

The image illustrates the quantum measurement carried out on a single atom quantum sensor in a living human HeLa cell. Image by David Haworth

Groundbreaking research has shown a quantum atom can be tracked inside a living human cell, which could lead to improvements in the testing and development of new drugs.

Professor Lloyd Hollenberg from the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics who led the research said it is the first time a single atom encased in nanodiamond has been used as a sensor to explore the nanoscale environment inside a living human cell. “It is exciting to see how the atom experiences the biological environment at the nanoscale,&rqduo; he said. “This research paves the way towards a new class of quantum sensors used for biological research into the development of new drugs and nanomedicine.&rqduo;

The sensor is capable of detecting biological processes at a molecular level, such as the regulation of chemicals in and out of the cell, which is critical in understanding how drugs work. The paper has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, the research was conducted by a cross-disciplinary team from the University of Melbourne’s Physics, Chemistry, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering departments. The researchers developed state of the art technology to control and manipulate the atom in the nanodiamond before inserting it into the human cells in the lab.

Biologist Dr Yan Yan of the University’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering who works in the field of nanomedicine, said the sensor provides critical information about the movement of the nanodiamonds inside the living cell.

Quantum physicist and PhD student Liam McGuinness from the University’s School of Physics said that monitoring the atomic sensor in a living cell was a significant achievement. “Previously, these atomic level quantum measurements could only be achieved under carefully controlled conditions of a physics lab,&rqduo; he said.

It is hoped in the next few years, that following these proof of principle experiments, the researchers will be able to develop the technology and provide a new set of tools for drug discovery and nanomedicine.

Source: University of media release, 25 May 2011


Sensational Materials

Polymer capsules for dual-responsive drug delivery

University of Melbourne researchers have reported significant results in targeted drug delivery technology, demonstrating how several independent release mechanisms can be brought together and synergistically function to tune cargo release profiles.

Frank Caruso and colleagues were able to generate a novel class of polymeric nano/microcapsules with dual-responsive release mechanisms via the versatile layer-by-layer technique and click chemistry. These capsules could release cargo specifically in pH conditions that mimic intracellular acidic compartments.

Further, the synergistic effects of pH and redox-potential allowed for rapid and efficient cargo release, even for extremely low intracellular reducing agent concentrations. In their study, reported in Advanced Materials, the capsules showed reversible size changes between pH 6 and 7.4.

The simple and efficient combination of the layer-by-layer technique and click chemistry to synthesise ‘big-to-small’ capsules with dual stimuli-responsive cargo release mechanisms broadens the possibilities for the design of ‘smart’ capsules for intracellular therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

Targeted drug delivery is an extensively studied research field with applications in health care, agriculture and veterinary science. Bottom-up materials research explores methods that allow selective or protected drug/tissue interactions.

Through research such as this, novel nanomaterial synthesis and effective bio-loading/release techniques can be developed for drug/biocides/vaccines/si-RNA. The creation of smart, stimuli-sensitive systems that respond to subtle changes in the local cellular environment will yield long-term solutions to many of the current delivery problems.

Based on an article on Materials Views (a review of K. Liang et al, Adv. Mater. ; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201101690

Nanotechnology pushes battery life further

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have made a breakthrough in battery technology by combining piezoelectrics with thin film technology.

Piezoelectricity is the charge that accumulates in some solid materials (notably crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to an applied mechanical stress. Dr Simon Ruffell from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering and Dr Madhu Bhaskaran and Dr Sharath Sriram from RMIT University have used nanotechnology to exploit these piezoelectricity principles in portable electronic devices.

This development would allow portable devices with touch screens like iPads and iPhones to be recharged through everyday activities like typing. It also means that in future pacemakers could be powered by an individual wearer’s blood pressure.

Dr Bhaskaran said that so far only small amounts of energy could be generated through the films, so the next step was working out how to amplify the resulting voltage by utilising popular micro-chip manufacture technology. It would be two or three years before piezoelectric thin films are routinely incorporated into gadgets that recharge as they are used, she said.

In their study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, Bhaskaran and co-workers used a nanoindenter tip as a tool to characterise electrical energy generation from piezoelectric thin films. In a world first, they have investigated direct interactions at the nanometer scale with controlled in situ characterisation of the voltage and current generation of piezoelectric thin films.

Source: Based on an ANU media release 1 July 2011