CRYOSTAGE: the new tool, unique in Italy, available to entrepreneurs thanks to the NANO-REGION project

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A new instrument has been installed in the research laboratories of Cnr-Iom, it is called Cryostage and is accessible to companies thanks to two dedicated European projects: NANO-REGION and NFFA-Europe.

Thanks to this tool, it is possible to expand the capabilities of electron microscopy to the biological, biomedical, and agri-food sectors, making it possible to analyze samples in which water is present.

In particular, Cryo stage, the only instrument of this type present in Italy, expands the functions of the SEM / FIB (Scanning Electron and Focused Ion Beam microscopes) and is already active in the laboratories of the Institute, as part of the initiative of upgrading of the Area Science Park Open Lab research infrastructures.

SEMs and SEMs / FIBs (Scanning Electron and Focused Ion Beam microscopes) are microscopes that provide very high resolution images generated by the interaction of a nanometer-sized electron or ion brush with the sample. In addition to the appearance of the sample, these tools can provide chemical and structural information or can dig to observe its internal structure.

“With this instrument it is finally possible to observe biological samples without having to dehydrate them first - explains Marco Lazzarino, researcher of the CNR-IOM and partner of the NANO-REGION project -.The water present in the sample is frozen very quickly and this allows you to observe its unaltered structure. In this way we can also study foams, polymers, materials sensitive to damage by electron beams, hydrogels, cells, tissues and materials in solution with the SEM, moreover it is very useful in microbiology for the study of viruses. And with the FIB we can literally cut them into slices to see how they are made inside ".

The Cryo stage also plays a role in the development of materials for implants and prostheses in the field of regenerative medicine and for the food industry. It is the first instrument of this type in Italy but is already widely used abroad for the study of food industry products, in particular for example a well-known ice cream company uses it to study the optimal consistency of its products.

The Open Lab initiative, thanks to which the tool was acquired, is aimed at networking and making research infrastructures open, allowing access to third parties to carry out experimental activities and applied and industrial research projects.

After a short commissioning period, the tool will be available for external users, it is expected by autumn. From that moment on, researchers and companies interested in analyzing their samples will be able to access the tool in different ways, through:

• the Area Science Park website, or by sending an email to [email protected];

• the NanoRegion project portal, funded by the Interreg ITA-SLO program aimed mainly at small and medium-sized enterprises in the program area, without however excluding a priori even large companies located in other European regions;

• the portal of the NFFA Europe project, which coordinates the world's largest network of research laboratories active in the field of nanotechnologies and is aimed at European and international researchers;

• the CNR-IOM NanoFabrication facility which offers access to the micro and nanofabrication infrastructures in the Area Science Park.