Bio-Soft Materials Laboratory (B-SMaL)

The laboratory of Dr. Sheikhi comprises approximately 1,300 ft2 space located on the 4th floor of the new Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building (416 CBEB) within the main campus of the Pennsylvania State University (University Park). The lab space accommodates 7 main experimental modules:

  1. Material synthesis module: This module comprises two fully equipped fume hoods for chemical synthesis, chemical safety cabinets, a lyophilizer, six temperature-controlled stirring hot plates, two ovens, bath and probe sonicators, filtration setup, membrane dialysis equipment, a blender, an overhead digital mixer, and two vortex mixers.

  2. Material processing and characterization module: This module includes a series of mechanical and rheological characterization equipment, such as a Discovery HR-2 (TA Instruments) rheometer and an Instron 5943 Materials Testing System, as well as a full multimode monochromator including a NanoQuant Plate™ for analyzing biomacromolecule/drug release/capture profiles in microliter samples, an automated conductometric titrator and cased light sources with wavelengths ranging from 365 nm to 500 nm. The lab is adjacent to other labs equipped with gas/liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry instruments, differential scanning calorimeter, thermogravimetric analyzer, UV-vis spectrophotometer, and zetasizer that are all accessible.

  3. Microfluidics module: This module is composed of two Nikon TU2000 and TE 300 inverted microscopes equipped with 2X, 5X, 10X, 20X, 40X, and 60X objectives for epifluorescence, brightfield, and phase contrast imaging, which are combined with two infuse/withdraw PHD 4400 Hpsi programmable syringe pumps, a space heater, a variety of micro-tubes and tubing, PDMS soft lithography setup including a plasma treatment unit and a vacuum desiccator, a spin coater, and two baking ovens.

  4. Cell/tissue culture and 3D bioprinting module: Two fully equipped rooms housing all the instruments required to conduct 2D and 3D cell/tissue culture, cell-biomaterial interaction, and 3D bioprinting experiments. Some of the equipment include three biosafety cabinets (BSL-2), four CO2 incubators, smart cryogenic cell tank, two freezers (-20°C and -80°C), a Cellink BioX 3D bioprinter, a refrigerator (4°C), a 40X-1000X plan infinity laboratory compound microscope with an LCD touch pad screen, digital and manual cell counters, Lab Armor™ beaded heat baths, a centrifuge, peripheral equipment (e.g., pipettes and pipettors), and glassware.

  5. Microscopy module: This module includes a high-end THUNDER Imager 3D Live Cell & 3D Cell Culture with a confocal quality imaging capability placed on an air-floated optical table in a closed room. The module benefits from computational clearing technology to efficiently remove out-of-focus blur in real time, enabling the meaningful use of 3D specimens with the camera-based fluorescence microscopes. The high sensitivity of the system ensures low phototoxicity and photobleaching, i.e., higher throughput with optimal conditions.

  6. Walk-in cold and warm room modules: There are two temperature and humidity controlled walk-in cold and warm rooms on the same lab neighborhood for conducting experiments and/or storing chemicals.

  7. Common lab space module: The common lab space includes five rows of benches for conducting dry and wet experiments, such as constructing microfluidic devices and material preparation and storage as well as an empty space accommodating large peripheral instruments, such as a centrifuge, two ovens, a fridge, and two freezers.

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