Applied Research Areas

APPLIED RESEARCH AREAS

HEALTH

INL is focused on the development of novel technologies for the early diagnosis and treatment of diseases:

1. DIAGNOSTICS. We investigate new biomarkers for in vitro and in vivo molecular imaging and develop microfluidic and magnetoresistive platforms for early detection, isolation, and characterization of cardiovascular and cancer pathologies.

I. Biomarkers are investigated using immunohistochemistry (with human blood or post-mortem samples, commercially available cell lines, or reconstituted cell structures), fluorescent confocal, widefield, and total internal reflection (TIRF) microscopy.
II. Magnetoresistive cytometry for early detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). This lab-on-chip strategy aims at achieving fast detection of CTCs with high sensitivity and selectivity, while reducing cost, materials, and manual labor compared to existing systems.
III. Devices and labels for diagnostic imaging, targeting improved in vivo detection of labelled tissues by optical coherence tomography (OCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

2. THERAPEUTICS. Functionalization of nanoparticles with biomarkers aims to improve the selectivity of targeting cancer cells with nanoparticle-based therapies. The efficacy of these nanoparticles in hyperthermia cancer therapy is tested at INL using in vitro models.

FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT

Expertise in the Food and Environment Research Area at INL covers complementary fields ranging from food technology to biology and chemistry, enabling a versatile approach to address challenges in the food quality and safety, and in environmental monitoring. Our portfolio of technologies includes, among others:
– Development of lab-on-a-chip devices for food and water analysis, ranging from the fabrication and integration of new miniaturized systems to the setup of innovative detection strategies.
– Development of nanomaterials for smart packaging, including new polymeric materials for detection of food contamination and nanohydrogels for the encapsulation and controlled release of bioactive agents.
– Development and evaluation of new nanomaterials for selective recognition and capture of water contaminants.

ICT – INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES

The ICT activity is focused on 5 technologies: spintronics, graphene, thin films, MEMS, and CMOS IC Design.
– Spintronics explore the spin of electrons to produce devices such as magnetic field sensors, RF nanodevices, and non-volatile memories. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) now views spintronics as one of the major emerging technologies with the potential to become highly market-disruptive.
– The wafer-scale fabrication of graphene electrolyte-gated FETs and of plasmonic devices responsive to terahertz radiation is focused on biosensor applications. Thin film silicon technology is used to produce piezoresistive strain sensors, solar cells, and photodiodes.
– MEMS explore the mechanical properties of silicon and polymer materials, which can be combined with other microfabricated devices. The MEMS group produces sensors and actuators, devices on flexible substrates, micro energy harvesters, and microfluidics.
– All these devices aim at the integration with traditional CMOS circuits, designed by the Nano- LC group to provide an interface for real-world applications.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Energy Research Area performs research and development along a wide range of research lines, including solar energy harvesting, conversion and storage.
Several different technologies are studied and developed: advanced concepts of nano and micro structured solar devices based on Si, chalcogenides and organic materials, energy harvesting MEMS devices, and high-performance energy storage materials and devices.
In addition to the technology development, this research area also offers a plenitude of expert knowledge and know-how in the fabrication of nano and micro-structures of energy materials (Si micro fabrication, atomic layer deposition, molecular beam epitaxy, nanoparticle synthesis, etc.), and characterization and theory of energy materials (advanced scanning probe microscopy methods characterizing light-matter interaction, theory of single atomic layer light harvesting, imaging techniques with atomic resolution, etc…).