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    Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials


    Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials


    Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials


    Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials

The Soft Materials Service provides equipment and technical assistance for the preparation and characterization of micro-and nanostructured soft molecular materials (molecular surfaces, micro- and nanoparticulate molecular materials, plastic films, dispersed systems, SAMs, etc..) with interest in different areas of application (biomedicine, electronics, energy storage and other chemical and material application areas).

These equipment and services constitute unit 6 of NANBIOSIS, the integrated infrastructure for the production and characterization of nanomaterials, biomaterials and systems in biomedicine, of CIBER-BBN and the Minimal Invasion Surgery Center Jesús Usón, which has been recognized by Spanish Government as Unique Scientific-Technological Infrastructure (ICTS).

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In order to apply for a service, please, contact with Amable Bernabé (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). He will contact you for arrangements

Lab-scale high pressure plant / High-pressure phase analyzer

For the use of lab-scale high pressure plant and high-pressure phase analyzer please contact Dr. Nora Ventosa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Lab-scale high pressure equipment for materials processing with compressed fluids (i.e. CO2, ferons)

Lab-scale high pressure systems, based on a 50mL and a 300mL stirred high pressure autoclaves equipped with pumps for the supply of compressed fluids and liquid solutions, respectively. Both plants could also optionally be equipped with several filters, manometers, thermocouples and back pressure regulators. The maximum operative pressure is 23MPa and the maximum operative temperature is 200ºC.

The 300mL system is also equipped with a mass flow meter, and a data acquisition system.

Both plants have been designed for micro- and nanostructuring molecular and soft materials.

Preparation of soft molecular materials with controlled structure at supramolecular, micro- and nanoscopic level, using one-step methodologies based on green compressed fluids (i.e. supercritical CO2)

  • Micro- and nanoparticulate single compounds with high supramolecular homogeneity (i.e. pure polymorphic phases, materials with single polymer folding, etc..)
  • Particulate polymeric matrix uniformly loaded with active compounds (therapeutics, cosmetic ingredients, catalyst, pigments and dyes, etc..)
  • Dispersed systems (suspensions, liposomes, emulsions, vesicles,) with narrow particle size distribution and high morphological homogeneity.
  • Porous materials, either crystalline or amorphous, with defined porosity and porous size.

Location: Laboratory 3.32. ICMAB

equipment 1 2

Ultrasonics for the preparation of disperse systems (i.e. micelles, vesicles, emulsions, suspensions) (Equipment: VCZX 750; Sonics & Materials)

High intensity ultrasonic processor extremely capable and versatile, it can safely process a wide range of organic and inorganic materials – from microliters to liters. Typical applications include: sample preparation, dispersion, cell lysing, desegregation, homogenization, particle size reduction, soil testing, transesterification (including biodiesel production), nanotechnology (including nanoparticle and Graphene dispersion), acceleration of chemical reactions, degassing and atomization.

Location: Laboratory 2.30. ICMAB

More info:

Stability studies (Turbiscan Lab; Formulaction)

Turbiscan is used to detect at an early stage all kinds of destabilisation such as coalescence, flocculation, creaming, sedimentation, etc… Various products such as emulsions, suspensions or foams can be studied from low to high concentrations without any sample preparation or dilution. Stability kinetics and index are measured for an efficient sample analysis and comparison.

Location: Laboratory SCF.  (MATGAS)

More info:

Automated analysis of the size distribution and concentration (Equipment: Nanosight NS300; Malvern Instruments)

The Malvern NanoSight NS300 uses the technology of Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA). This unique technology utilizes the properties of both light scattering and Brownian motion in order to obtain the size distribution and concentration measurement of particles in liquid suspension. A laser beam is passed through the sample chamber, and the particles in suspension in the path of this beam scatter light in such a manner that they can easily be visualized via 20x magnification microscope onto which is mounted a camera. The camera operates at 30 frames per second (fps), capturing a video file of the particles moving under Brownian motion. The software tracks many particles individually and using the Stokes-Einstein equation calculates their hydrodynamic diameters.


  • Wavelength: 405nm (violet), 488nm (blue), 532nm (green) or 642nm (red). 
  • Temperature control range: 5°C below ambient to 55°C. 
  • Stage: Fixed stage.
  • Focus: Computer controlled motorized focus.
  • Camera:
  • Fluorescence: Motorized 6 place filter wheel with choice of filters.
  • Particle size: 10nm to 2000nm.
  • Concentration range: 106to 109 particles per mL. 

Location: Laboratory SCF.  (MATGAS)

More info:

Particle size distribution (from 0.1 to 3500 microns) – (Equipment: Mastersizer 2000; Malvern Instruments)

The Mastersizer 2000 uses the technique of laser diffraction to measure the size of particles. It does this by measuring the intensity of light scattered as a laser beam passes through a dispersed particulate sample. This data is then analyzed to calculate the size of the particles that created the scattering pattern.


  • Particle size: Suspensions, emulsions, dry powders
  • Principle: Laser light scattering
  • Analysis: Mie and Fraunhofer scattering


  • Red light source: 4mW He-Ne, 632.8nm
  • Blue light source: 10mW LED, 470nm


  • Arrangement: Log-spaced array
  • Angular range: 015 – 144 degrees
  • Alignment: Automatic


  • Particle size: 01 – 3500 µm
  • Number of size classes: 100 (user adjustable)
  • Accuracy: Better than 0.6%
  • Precision / Repeatability: Better than 0.5% variation
  • Reproducibility: Better than 1% variation

Location: Laboratory SCF.  (MATGAS)

More info:

Particle size distribution (from 0.6 to 6000nm); Z potential and molecular weight measurements by DLS-NIBS (Equipment: Zetasizer Nano ZS; Malvern Instruments)

Measurement of the particle size distribution of solid or dispersed materials (suspensions, liposome, vesicles, emulsions), in the range comprised between 0.6nm and 6 microns, by dynamic light scattering.

* Particle size measurements:

* Max. size range: 0.6nm to 6microns
* Min. sample volume: 12µL
* Max. sample concentration: 40% w/V

* Zeta potential measurement:

* Conductivity range: 0 to 200 mS/cm
* Sample volume: 150 – 750 µL

* Max. sample concentration: 40% w/V

Location: Laboratory 2.30. ICMAB

More info:

Particle size distribution (from 10 to 1000nm) and particle concentration by real-time visualization of nanoparticles in a liquid (Equipment: LM20; Nanosight )

Particle size distribution and particle concentration by real-time visualization of nanoparticles in a liquid. In addition to biological samples also paints, pigments, sun creams, inks, metals, metal oxides or fuel additives in any non-corrosive solvent and water can be examined with virtually no sample preparation.

  • Nanoparticle analysis range: typically 10 nm – 1000 nm, dependent on particle material
  • Particle type: any
  • Solvent: any non-corrosive solvent and water. A range of solvent-resistant seals are available.
  • Sample volume requirements: 0.3 ml

Location: Laboratory 2.30. ICMAB

More info

Volume and density measurement of porous solids and powders (Equipment: Ultrapyc 1200e Helium Pycnometer; Quantachrome Instruments)

Fully automated gas pycnometer, for the measurement of volume and density of powders, granular materials, and solid objects. Typical applications include: porous materials such as catalysts and activated carbons, pharmaceuticals and excipients , foods (raw, refined and end products), ceramics and refractory materials, geological samples (soils, rocks, sediments), building materials (concrete, cement), polymers and composites.

equipment 08 table

More info: LINK 


Bulk density and powder packing tests (Equipment: Autotap; Quantachrome Instruments)

Each particle of a solid material has effectively the same true density regardless of size or shape, but more or less geometric space is occupied by the material according to the relative particle-particle cohesion and mechanical interference. That is, the apparent bulk densities of powdered, granular or flaked materials are highly dependent on the manner in which the particles are packed together. Furthermore, handling or vibration of particulate material causes the smaller particles to work their way into the spaces between the larger particles. The geometric space occupied by the powder decreases and its density increases; ultimately no further natural particle packing takes place without the addition of pressure and maximum particle packing is achieved. Under controlled conditions of tapping rate, tap force drop and cylinder diameter, this condition of maximum packing efficiency is highly reproducible. Tap density measurement is formalized in a number of international standards to which Autotap conform.

Location: Laboratory 3.32; ICMAB

More info: LINK

Measurement of biomolecular interactions in solution by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) (Equipment: VP-ITC; GE HealthCare-Microcal)

ITC is a thermodynamic technique that directly measures the heat released or absorbed during a biomolecular binding event (protein-small molecule, protein-protein, target-drug, enzyme-inhibitor, antibody-antigen, protein-DNA, protein-lipid, small molecule-small molecule). Measurement of this heat allows accurate determination of binding constants (KB), reaction stoichiometry (n), enthalpy (ΔH) and entropy (ΔS), thereby providing a complete thermodynamic profile of the molecular interaction in a single experiment. Because ITC goes beyond binding affinities and can elucidate the mechanism of the molecular interaction, it has become the method of choice for characterizing biomolecular interactions.

The VP-ITC system is an ultrasensitive isothermal titration calorimeter designed for ease-of-use.  All functions are operated through software to minimize operator involvement and facilitate fast and accurate analyses without the need for expertise in thermodynamics.

Applications include:

  • Characterization of molecular interactions of small molecules, proteins, antibodies, nucleic acids, lipids and other biomolecules.
  • Lead optimization.
  • Enzyme kinetics.
  • Assessment of the effect of molecular structure changes on binding mechanisms.
  • Assessment of biological activity.

Sample requirements:

  • Spin rates are user selectable.
  • The normal operating range is 2°C to 80°C.
  • Sample and reference cells require approximately 1.8 ml. per cell even though the working volume of the cell is only 1.4 ml.
  • The syringe containing a “ligand” (0.290 ml) is titrated (injected) into the cell containing a solution of the “macromolecule”.

Location: Laboratory 3.32. ICMAB

More info: LINK

Milli-Q Water

Location: Laboratory 2.27; ICMAB

More info: LINK

High-speed Refrigerated Benchtop Centrifuge (Equipment: Allegra® 64R; Beckman Coulter)

Optimal for Subcellular Fractionation, Proteins and Viruses
• 64,000 x g (30,000 rpm) with fixed-angle rotor
• Spin tubes from 0.25 up to 85 mL
• Operating temperature from 2º C to 40º C
• Rotors:
Capacity Max. Velocity

ROTOR F2402H 24 tubes x 1.5-2.0 ml 21000 rpm
ROTOR F0650 6 tubes x 50 ml 18500 rpm

Location: Laboratory 2.29; ICMAB

More info: LINK

Preparation and Characterization of
Soft Materials


Campus UAB
(in front of Firehouse)
08193, Bellaterra