Name of the infrastructure: WU-TA
Location (town, country): Wageningen, the Netherlands
Web site address: www.wur.nl
Legal name of organisation operating the infrastructure: Wageningen University
Location of organisation (town, country): Wageningen, the Netherlands
Description of the Infrastructure
MATERIALS AND EXPERTISE: Wageningen University (WUR-WU) has a broad experience in applicationsof nanotechnology in food and nutrition. Realizing that consumer acceptance is a critical success factor,WUR-WU very early on has initiated research on the possible adverse effects of nanoparticles when ingestedor in the natural environment. WUR-WU, among many other subjects, performs research on nanostructuredmaterials and their characteristics and how they can be used for specific applications. For that purpose ithas extensive facilities to produce and characterise nanostructured materials with different analytical andspectroscopic techniques. Moreover, WUR-WU also studies the effects (both positive and negative) ofnanostructured materials in biological systems, including humans and has appropriate facilities for that.The facilities of WUR-WU are aimed at the synthesis, functionalisation and especially characterisation ofengineered nanostructured materials. WUR-WU has state-of-the-art facilities in all of the categories A-D. Withthe predominant aim on applications in food and nutrition, the focus is largely on soft nanomaterials like vesicles,micelles and polymeric particles. However, there is also extensive expertise and infrastructure for synthesis andsubsequent functionalisation and characterisation of semiconductor based particles. Since WUR-WU has a longhistory of toxicology research, especially aimed at the gastro-intestinal tract, it also has facilities to investigatethe kinetics and dynamics of these particles in vitro and in vivo.
SUPPORTING FACILITIES AND SERVICES:
WUR-WU will be offering access to all four components listed inthe project, as follows:
WUR-WU has the extensive laboratory facilities and expertise that are necessary forthe synthesis of (functionalised) nanostructured materials via self assembly. Soft particles like vesicles andmicelles can be produced in various size ranges. Particles from polymers can have a better size distribution.Furthermore, a range of other labelled and functionalised (organic) nanostructures can be made. Theorganisation has a novel method to produce silicon nanoparticles of a very well defined size based on selfassembly, which are shown to be non-toxic. The synthesis facilities are set up to ensure safe handling ofnanostructured materials.
Particle labelling and pre-processing:
WUR-WU has developed procedures to covalently bind an organicmonolayer to silicon based materials. The organic monolayer can have many different appearances and canbe tailored to the needs of subsequent research or applications. It can easily be used to bind different organicgroups to the particles to functionalize or to label them.
Particle Characterisation in situ and ex situ:
WUR-WU has an extensive and partly unique arsenal of facilitiesto characterise the nanostructured materials in different stages of the synthesis and functionalisation, includingthe expertise to interpret the data and understand the underlying principles. The various facilities have beenchosen to complement each other and, when used in combination, to provide new and unique information aboutthe nanostructured materials. The technologies that can be provided range from spectroscopic facilities likeXPS, NMR, X-ray diffraction and reflectometry, XPR, and Nano- and Picosecond fluorescence; a wide range ofmass spectrometry systems; various chromatography systems; biophysical analysis systems; and visualisationfacilities like SEM and TEM, MRI, various sorts of visible light microscopy, and AFM and STM systems. Some ofthese are already combined with additional measurement technology—like the SEM with EDAX, and a scanningprobe microscope with Auger spectroscopy and LC-NMR with MS and other technologies can be combinedby doing subsequent measurements on the same nanostructured material in different facilities. For all thefacilities highly qualified sTAf is available to assist with the measurements, if necessary. Since these facilitiesare also extensively used by WUR-WU researchers themselves the techniques are very well understood and thelimitations are known.
Particle exposure assessment:
WUR-WU has animal testing facilities to expose laboratory animals toengineered nanostructured materials. Of course, before these experiments can be conducted, ethical and legalrequirements have to be met. WUR-WU has the complete framework (both scientific and legal/ethical) to be ableto evaluate proposals for these experiments.
Research offered by the infrastructure:
The Wageningen NMR Centre is a unique NMR facility in Europe. It has been supported by EU for TransnationalAccess activities since 1994. It offers User access to various NMR spectrometers (low field portable, TimeDomain, imaging, solid and liquid state spectroscopy and high field LC-SPE-NMR-MS), with applications rangingfrom molecular to intact plant level. Therefore, the facility covers a unique range of possibilities and applications,including structure-function relationships of nano-materials, nano-particles and nano-structures, complexmixtures and (bio)systems with applications in life sciences (health, nutrition, ecology, plants, food, biology).The facility offers access to and training on the NMR, MRI and EPR spectrometers, databases (metabolomics),data processing, simulation and interpretation of the data (such as image processing, molecular dynamics, andmolecular modeling calculations).WUR-WU is specifically interested in applications of nanostructured materials in food and nutrition applications.This includes sensor and diagnostics systems in food processing, where functionalized semiconductor materialsare relevant. This means that there is a lot of expertise both on nanostructured semiconductor materials andon soft nanostructures that can be used for targeted delivery of nutrients in food products. Since self assemblyis a fundamental research area of WUR-WU, these are also facilities and expertise on polymeric systems likepluronics and block copolymers.Being the main user of the facilities ourselves, WUR-WU offers all the laboratory facilities that are necessaryto do the experiments. Since the facilities range from synthesis and functionalisation to physical, chemical andbiological characterisation, WUR-WU can be considered to be a one-stop facility for nanostructured materialssafety assessment. The staff involved has longstanding expertise to train new users, not familiar with thetechniques.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
WUR-WU offers an extensive range of facilities especially on characterisation of nanostructured materials.
The MicroSpectroscopy Centre is a well-equipped facility with expertise at the cutting edge of microscopyand spectroscopy, essential for system characterisation in research on nanostructures and dedicated artificialmolecular assemblies. Wageningen University has allocated permanent staff to the MSC for operatingits advanced equipment ensuring continuity and a user-friendly infrastructure for visiting researchers:http://www.mscwu.wur.nl/UK/.
Over the years the MicroSpectroscopy Centre has hosted many internationalcourses as indicated at the website http://www.mscwu.wur.nl/UK/Courses/. The MSC has served a number ofinternational companies in the application of dedicated characterisation techniques.