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University of Rochester and Simpore, Inc. | Date: 2014-10-27

Thin pnc-Si membranes operate as high-flow-rate EOPs at low applied voltages. In at least some instances, this may be due to the small electrical resistance presented by the membrane and high electric fields across the molecularly thin membrane. The normalized flow rates of some pnc-Si EOPs may be 20 times to several orders of magnitude higher than other low-voltage EOPs.

Agrawal A.A.,University of Rochester | Nehilla B.J.,University of Rochester | Reisig K.V.,Simpore, Inc. | Gaborski T.R.,University of Rochester | And 4 more authors.
Biomaterials | Year: 2010

Porous nanocrystalline silicon (pnc-Si) is new type of silicon nanomaterial with potential uses in lab-on-a-chip devices, cell culture, and tissue engineering. The pnc-Si material is a 15. nm thick, freestanding, nanoporous membrane made with scalable silicon manufacturing. Because pnc-Si membranes are approximately 1000 times thinner than any polymeric membrane, their permeability to small solutes is orders-of-magnitude greater than conventional membranes. As cell culture substrates, pnc-Si membranes can overcome the shortcomings of membranes used in commercial transwell devices and enable new devices for the control of cellular microenvironments. The current study investigates the feasibility of pnc-Si as a cell culture substrate by measuring cell adhesion, morphology, growth and viability on pnc-Si compared to conventional culture substrates. Results for immortalized fibroblasts and primary vascular endothelial cells are highly similar on pnc-Si, polystyrene and glass. Significantly, pnc-Si dissolves in cell culture media over several days without cytotoxic effects and stability is tunable by modifying the density of a superficial oxide. The results establish pnc-Si as a viable substrate for cell culture and a degradable biomaterial. Pnc-Si membranes should find use in the study of molecular transport through cell monolayers, in studies of cell-cell communication, and as biodegradable scaffolds for three-dimensional tissue constructs. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 153.25K | Year: 2010

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): In this Phase I application we will examine the feasibility of producing high yield porous nanocrystalline silicon (pnc-Si) membranes for protein purification products. Membranes made of this material are a breakthrough technology, 1000x thinner than conventional and other nanoporous membranes, with tunable pore sizes (5-100 nm) and precise distributions. At just tens of nanometers thick, pnc-Si membranes have no internal void spaces, resulting in minimal loss of filtrate and high permeability, making them ideally suited for rapid and precise biomolecule separations. Research of cellular components and proteins has risen to new levels with advances in separation tools such as two-dimensional liquid chromatography and capillary electrophoresis systems. These tools, however, are typically limited to core facilities at major research centers away from the bench top or the daily workspace of the average biomedical scientist. Laboratory separation and sample- prep tools haven't kept pace with advances in major core facilities. This is in part due to the fact that basic membrane technology has not significantly advanced in decades, still suited best to concentration or micron-scale separations. Pnc-Si membranes will enable consumable separation products that bridge the gap between bench top tools and core facility equipment. In this project we will test the feasibility of scalable production of pnc-Si membranes at reproducible pore sizes with adequate burst pressures to be integrated into stackable membrane modules. We will perform protein concentration and purification experiment using pnc-Si membranes in series and benchmark against industry standard centrifugal spin-tubes. Phase II efforts will fabricate stackable modules with precise cut-offs that fractionate and concentration complex protein mixtures in one pass with the goal of offering chromatography features with the speed and simplicity of membrane filtration. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: SiMPore's pnc-Si membranes are a breakthrough technology 1000x thinner than conventional and other nanoporous membranes, with permeability more than 100 times greater and controllable tight pore size distributions. These characteristics enable protein separation and purification with the precision of liquid chromatography, but the speed and simplicity of a membrane filter.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: STTR PHASE I | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2015

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project relates to the treatment of end-stage renal disease, a significant health burden in the US. Trends are moving toward patient-managed, in-home treatments. The goal of this proposal is to accelerate adoption of safer home hemodialysis therapy through development of prototype dialysis systems. Despite the recognized economic, health and quality-of-life benefits of more frequent hemodialysis treatments, adoption of home hemodialysis using present systems is being limited by doctors? and patients? safety concerns. Simpler and safer hemodialysis therapies will require breakthroughs in both device components and form-factors. The development of a small-scale, highly efficient dialysis system enabled by silicon nanomembranes holds potential for increasing adoption of home dialysis and its related benefits for the 430,000 individuals affected by end-stage renal disease in the US.

The proposed project concerns the scale up of silicon nanomembranes, which offer extraordinary and unparalleled permeability, enabling small-scale hemodialysis. This project focuses on the optimization of membrane ?liftoff?methods which enable the release of large areas of silicon nanomembranes from silicon wafer supports on which they are produced, thereby simultaneously increasing active membrane area and reducing production cost. Fluidic housings will be developed for these membranes appropriate for blood volumes for large animal (Pig/sheep) and human scales. Bench-top validation will be conducted to measure toxin clearance and ultrafiltration in the prototype system.

The present invention is drawn to methods for facilitating fluid flow through the nanopores of membranes, i.e., through sub-micron pores. The present invention is also directed to one or more apparatus for such fluid flow, and for nanoporous membranes modified to facilitate such fluid flow.

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