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Investing in cutting edge tech to boost research in diverse fields

New Zealand’s University of Canterbury is investing NZ$ 2.6 million in cutting-edge new research equipment that will strengthen research and teaching excellence in diverse fields.

These fields include biomedicine, engineering, drug design, and nanotechnology.

As reported, the new specialist research equipment will be unique in New Zealand and signals that the University is actively rebuilding its research profile nationally and internationally.

The major investments

These are the first major investments, backing fundamental and applied research into structural biology and new drug discovery, protein science and structural biology, and nanostructure engineering.

The funding will cover the following:

  1. Two-photon polymerization nanoscale 3D printer

The Photonic Professional GT2 two-photon polymerization-based nanoscale 3D printer will be the first in New Zealand, and only one of a few worldwide of the newly-released second generation version.

It will further strengthen research and teaching excellence in nanotechnology and innovative additive manufacturing.

These areas constitute transformational technology for high-value domestic industries.

The UC Nanofabrication Facility, within the University’s College of Engineering, is the most technically complete Micro- and Nanofabrication facility in New Zealand.

Nanoscale 3D printing based on two-photon polymerization is one of the key new nanofabrication technologies established in recent years.

This is the first and only technology to bridge the gap between 2D high-resolution patterning techniques and conventional large-scale, large-feature size 3D printing available through the Additive Manufacturing.

It will allow researchers and external users to build complex, arbitrarily shaped structures with minimum feature sizes in the nanometre range.

  1. Native mass spectrometer

The acquisition of a native mass spectrometer will be a New Zealand-first, providing exciting new capability and enhancing the University’s reputation for research excellence in the area of protein science and structural biology.

A native mass spectrometer is specifically designed to analyse very large molecules, like proteins in their natural state.

The study and manipulation of native proteins and their interactions is of great importance in drug design, medical research, biotechnology development and bioengineering.

  1. Biomolecular NMR facility

The biomolecular NMR (BioNMR) probe will help develop new capability in structural biology and drug discovery at the University.

As a fundamental and versatile biomolecular method, investment in this device will boost biological and biomedical research and attract new research funding.

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is a powerful technique that has found many applications in medical and industry research.

Developments in technology and methodology in the past decades have allowed NMR to become one of the most important techniques for studying large biological molecules, including proteins, DNA and carbohydrates.

It can be used to investigate diverse biological problems including in drug screening and drug design.

NMR is the only structural method to study intrinsically-disordered proteins, as well as for following protein folding and misfolding, which is highly relevant to disease research including dementia and cancer.

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