SHyNE Resource attends IFT 16
“SHyNE’s strength in soft and hybrid nanotechnology will be an asset to the food industry where companies are investing in products enabled by nanotechnology,” said Myers. “We are already working with some companies in the food industry, but we hope to make some new connections.”
Myers said both food and its packaging are areas in which the food industry could benefit from SHyNE facilities. He explained, “for something like salad greens, there is an ability to extend the shelf life without chemicals or preservatives by developing new packaging materials. Ultimately, this is a materials science problem and something we can lend our expertise to help tackle.”
Myers adds that companies could experiment and build flexible devices, for example, that indicate when food has spoiled, similar to electronic tattoo technology that monitors blood sugar. SHyNE also offers characterization capabilities and the ability to look at the properties of food and packaging.
When many companies can’t invest in the purchase, maintenance and staffing of high-end equipment, SHyNE offers access to expensive, state-of-the-art instruments along with experienced staff and in-house expertise.
“Instead of simply outsourcing analytical work, companies can send their scientists here, who receving training and collect the data themselves,” Myers said. “From our experience, we see that users get more out of the experiment as they understand both sides- the process and the analysis.”
Myers wants to build relationships within the food industry and thinks SHyNE can tailor to what companies future needs may be.
“Our bread and butter is our ability to train users, whether novice or experienced, to prepare samples, collect data and interpret data,” he said.
Between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, three access modes are available to prospective users. The Full Service option allows companies to send their samples to SHyNE’s facilities and receive a data report. Assisted Use lets company’s scientists or engineers bring in their materials and perform analysis with SHyNE staff. Lastly, the Self-Service mode allows open access to facilities after training with SHyNE staff. This option allows for users to come and go as they see fit and their R&D needs dictate.
SHyNE Resource was started in September of 2015 as part of the National Science Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NCCI) and works to provide a national network of facilities to support external users. Myers hopes to be a resource to the food industry in the Chicagoland area and the Midwest and sees the proximity, resources and atmosphere at Northwestern and University of Chicago as an advantage to the market.