UdeC will acquire advanced equipment for studies on polymers and biomolecules

The projects recently awarded within the framework of the XI Medium Scientific and Technological Equipment Contest 2022 of the National Research and Development Agency, ANID, have 42 months to implement, two of which correspond to proposals promoted by the University of Concepción, UdeC.

“We are happy to inform the academic community of the award of these two Fondequip projects, whose objective is to acquire scientific equipment that enhances not only individual but also institutional research”, highlighted the Vice-Rector for Research and Development, Dr. Andrea Rodríguez Tastets.

One of the awarded UdeC proposals is led by the Dr. Andy Pérez De Armasassistant professor of the Department of Instrumental Analysis of the Faculty of Pharmacy and has the title MALDI-Imaging: A new horizon for spatial mapping of biomolecules and, explains the researcher, “its main objective is to create unprecedented instrumental capacities at the University of Concepción in the Bío-Bío and Ñuble regions for mapping the spatial distribution of biomolecules (proteins, peptides, metabolites and lipids) in intact biological tissues, as well as for the surface characterization of polymers and their contaminants”.

“To materialize this objective”, continues the scientist, “the assigned resources will be used in the acquisition of a high resolution mass spectrometer with a MALDI ionization source (Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization) and Time-of-Flight/Time-of-Flight (TOF/TOF) mass analyzer. We are very happy with this news, because this is usually one of the most competitive contests at the national level. But more than anything for contributing to the acquisition of an analytical instrument that several research groups have identified as a necessity for their scientific work”.

“With these capacities”, Pérez details, “we hope to begin to develop a new line of scientific research in Mass Spectral Imaging and Spatial Metabolomics, which would also be unprecedented in the country. These analytical techniques provide exact location information (mapping) of one or more molecules of interest (metabolites, peptides, proteins, lipids, etc.) in a thin slice of sample, which can be a histological section of a plant, animal, or synthetic material organ” and adds that , “To date, in all the editions of FONDEQUIP, only one MALDI-TOF/TOF equipment has been financed in 2016 for the U. de la Frontera. Our project would be the second of this nature financed by this contest, and the first with the necessary hardware configuration for the implementation of mass spectral imaging techniques”.

The other UdeC initiative that received this funding is entitled Strengthening the capacity for analysis and characterization of materials through the acquisition of a mechanical dynamic analyzer and is headed by the associate professor of the Department of Polymers of the Faculty of Chemical Sciences, Dr. Bruno Urbano Cantillana who explains that acquiring a mechanical dynamic analyzer (DMA) will allow “the analysis of materials such as polymers, metals, ceramics and composite materials, through the determination of parameters such as glass transition temperature, rigidity modulus, stress relaxation, among others, depending on the temperature, frequency and environmental humidity”.

This proposal also considers the purchase of “two accessories that will significantly expand analysis capabilities: a humidity control device and a nitrogen purge cooler that allows analysis temperatures of up to -150°C]to be reached,” Urbano details. “The DMA is the only technique that jointly provides information on the rheological, mechanical and thermal properties of polymers, allowing measurement in operating conditions similar to the real world and therefore it is an essential analytical technique to evaluate the performance of materials in field conditions” .

This award is a source of satisfaction, says Urbano, “in various aspects. First, for the work done in preparing the proposal together with colleagues Dr. Susana Sánchez and Dr. Héctor Aguilar; second, because we contribute to our department and faculty to strengthen their infrastructure in scientific equipment, and, third, because it will allow us to increase and strengthen our research and collaborations”.

“We congratulate professors Pérez and Urbano for the success of their applications, and we advocate that this award can expand collaboration and the use of specialized teams at the university,” said Dr. Rodríguez.