Dr. Matthew Libera, of the Chemical, Biomedical and Materials Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology, received a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which will enhance the research and educational initiatives under way at Stevens in the areas of nanotechnology and multi-scale engineering.

Libera's team of Henry Du and Svetlana Sukishvili from Stevens, Patricia Soteropolous (PHRI/UMDNJ) and Treena Arinzeh (NJIT) obtained the Dip Pen Nanolithography System for Surface Nanofunctionalization (DPN) to research how individual cells behave when they stick to a surface. Such work may lead to new sensors that can detect trace quantities of harmful chemicals and new tools for biomedical research and clinical diagnostics. DPN is among the newest and most advanced scientific tools for controlling how the surfaces of materials interact with their surroundings, and can create patterns that are almost 1,000 times smaller than those in state-of-the-art electronic devices like advanced computer chips. Furthermore, DPN can deposit as little as a few molecules at each point in the surface pattern, and this capability gives scientists and engineers impressive new control over chemical reactions that occur at very specific points on a surface. Libera's team will use the DPN system to substantially enhance a set of forward-looking projects that include: development of nanohydrogel-based protein nanoarrays; coherent surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy using directed deposition of Ag and Au nanoparticle arrays; and stem cell differentiation on biochemically nanopatterned surfaces.