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The BioNano Laboratory is dedicated to interdisciplinary research at the interface between the physical and life sciences. The BioNano group is comprised of members who share an interest in nanotechnology and diagnostics, nanotoxicology and nanomedicine.

The group possesses a breadth of research expertise for the investigation of molecular, cellular and physiological interactions using novel biophysical tools such as cell actuators, magnetic and ultrasound fields.CRANN Nanobio The research activities of the group members are major components of a number of inter-disciplinary research initiatives, including Cell Biology and Genetics, Pharmacology, Magnetics and Nanomedicine Interdisciplinary Research Groups.

Members of the BioNano group are also members of the Integrated Nanoscience Platform for Ireland (INSPIRE), a consortium of all Irish third level institutions with international leading research capability in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Furthermore, CRANN is also part of the Molecular Medicine Institute which is a not for profit company established by an extended network of Irish Universities and their associated academic hospitals. The Bionano lab hopes to facilitate and accelerate the translation of biomedical nanotechnology research into improved nanoscale diagnostics and nanomedicine.

Optical Tweezers

Used to study a variety of biological systems An optical tweezer is a scientific instrument that uses a focused laser beam to provide an attractive or repulsive force (on the order of piconewtons), to physically hold and move microscopic dielectric objects. Optical tweezers have been particularly successful in studying a variety of biological systems in recent years. We currently focus on investigations of molecular motor proteins.

Technical Specifications:

This homebuilt instrument allows manipulating single molecules in a liquid environment with nanometer precision and sub-picoNewton forces. The instrument has additional confocal single fluorophore detection capabilities. A fully automatic fluidics system enables manipulation of dielectric particles with attached biomolecules or single cells.
Contact: Professor Martin Hegner, email: martin.hegner AT

Eden250 Rapid Prototyper

High quality 3D Printing System The Eden250 3D Printing System provides high-quality rapid prototyping. The system is based on PolyJet™ technology. The Eden250 provides a complete solution for the accurate building of any geometry. Models produced are smooth and durable, with fine details and an outstanding surface finish.

Technical Specifications

Print Resolution: X-axis: 600 dpi: 42 µm, Y-axis: 300 dpi: 84 µm, Z-axis: 1600 dpi: 16 µm. Typical tolerance of just 0.1mm, which enables high accuracy and repeatability of models and ensures easy attachment of multiple parts. The prototype prints horizontal layers of 16µm which eliminates the stair effect common to complicated curved surfaces built in lower resolution and produces ultra-fine detail usually only available with high-cost systems. Thin walls down to 0.6mm can be printed.

Contact: Professor Martin Hegner, email: martin.hegner AT

Cantilever array sensor devices

Can be functionalised with a range of biological material

Home-built cantilever array sensor devices operated in static or dynamic mode are used in the field of qualitative label free diagnostics. The device uses optical detection readout using either vertical cavity surface emitting laser sources or a movable fibre optical laser beam. The cantilever arrays are functionalized depending on the field of application (e.g. genomics, proteomics, small molecules). The array format allows differential readout of the signals arising from molecular recognition events on the sensor interface.

Technical Specifications (static mode)

8 cantilever arrays, pitch 250 µm, laser readout at 780nm or 630nm, fully temperature controlled with automatic fluidics. Mechanical noise level ~ 1nm.

Technical Specifications (dynamic mode)

8 cantilever arrays, pitch 250 µm, laser readout at 780nm or 630nm, fully temperature controlled with automatic fluidics. The micro-organism growth detection device has a computer controlled humidity regulation. Dynamic signals in the range from a few kHz up to ~ 1MHz are able to be analyzed. Noise level ~ 500 pg in liquids and a few pg in humid environment.

Contact: Professor Martin Hegner, email: martin.hegner AT

Langmuir Blodgett trough

Can create films which contain one or more monolayers of an organic material,

A Langmuir–Blodgett trough is able to create films which contain one or more monolayers of an organic material, deposited from the surface of a liquid onto a solid by immersing (or emersing) the solid substrate into (or from) the liquid. A monolayer is adsorbed homogeneously with each immersion or emersion step, thus films with very accurate thickness can be formed.

Technical Specifications

The Nima Langmuir Trough has a subphase area of 30x10cm and a maximum monolayer containment area of 265cm2. This gives a large compression ratio, suitable for compression of a larger range of molecules. The larger area improves positional accuracy of the surface pressure-area isotherm plots from which the area per molecule is determined. Langmuir-Schaefer horizontal dipping is also possible on this trough.

Contact: Professor Martin Hegner, email: martin.hegner AT

Ink jet spotter

Allows minute amounts of liquid materials to be deposited onto interaces

The ink-jet spotter allows us to deposit minute amounts of liquid materials to be deposited with high three dimensional precision onto interfaces. We use this device to deposit biological molecules onto cantilever silicon interfaces. The deposition of ~ hundred pico- litters is without contact onto the interface, droplet size varies from ~35 µm to 90 µm diameter.

Technical Specifications

Computer controlled positioning system MD-P-802, Drive DC-Servomotors, Travel range x-axis 200 mm, y-axis 200 mm, z-axis 80 mm, Positioning accuracy ± 5 μm (x- and y-axis alone), z-axis ± 10 μm, Repetition accuracy ± 1 μm (x- and y-axis alone), z-axis ± 5 μm. The system is equipped with a peltier element controlled humidity chamber for deposition of fragile biomolecules such as membrane protein vesicles.

Contact: Professor Martin Hegner, email: martin.hegner AT

Magnetoresistive Detection Platform

Bio-magnetic detection using advanced magnetoresistive sensors for applications such as detecting magnetically-labeled biomarkers and magnetic flow cytometery
Contact: Dr. Nigel Carroll, email:

Pulse magnetic Stimulator Platform

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) of the nervous system has been an important tool in neuroscience for over twenty years. More recently many clinical applications have also been developed for diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The aims for this work is to elucidate the physical and biochemical mechanisms involved the in vitro magnetic stimulation of neuron and to measure TMS effects on neuronal development and neurotransmitter release
Contact: Dr. Nigel Carroll, email: