Ido Hadar’s journey at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) spans a decade. After receiving an academic scholarship to attend the university in 2006, he enrolled in HU’s interdisciplinary bachelors’ program in Exact Sciences. His wife, Liron David, joined him at HU as an undergraduate student of law and social work.
Ido’s program constituted the perfect marriage of his two favorite academic fields —physics and chemistry. As a student, he had the flexibility to craft his learning experience. He took courses that interested him, studied in small groups, and conducted lab research with world-class professors, including Professor Uri Banin, the founder of Hebrew University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
In Professor Banin’s laboratory, Ido conducted research on light-emitting nanocrystals, sized at the nanometric level (one billionth of a meter), and studied the chemical composition and physical properties of their materials.
After graduating with his B.S. degree, he continued his work with Professor Banin first as an M.S. student and then as a Ph.D. candidate at HU’s Department of Chemistry and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
During his Ph.D. program, Ido studied how changing the dimensionality of semiconductor nanocrystals affect their most basic properties. He contributed to joint Hebrew University-Cornell University research on nanoparticles, namely their ability to switch back and forth between phases.
Published in Science Magazine, the research may have a great impact on quantum computing and potentially serve as switches in computing, sensors, and/or as a seed for the generation of larger nanoparticles.
Today, Ido is a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. He’s researching how to harness the physical properties of materials in order to produce clean solar energy.
“I see how my HU education has impacted my present. At HU, I conducted research at the forefront of modern science and enjoyed the intellectual and personal support of various faculties and staff. Even now, my education helps me bridge my knowledge of chemical synthesis with that of the study of materials and their physical properties.” Ido said.
Professor Uri Banin, founder of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and his colleagues Professor Richard Robinson and Professor Tobias Hanrath at Cornell University have made a breakthrough nanoscience discovery. In their recent paper, “Chemically Reversible Isomerization of Inorganic Clusters” published in Science, the authors reveal that a “magic-size nanocluster” is the missing link that bridges the divide between how matter rearranges itself in small-scale molecular isomerization and in large, solid bulk matter phase transitions.
Three years ago, Robinson was on sabbatical at Banin’s nanoscience lab at Hebrew University. While in Jerusalem, Robinson asked a graduate student from back home to mail him some nanoparticles of a specific size.
“When they got to me, I measured them with the spectrometer and I said, ‘Wait, you sent me the smaller particles instead of the bigger ones.’ And he said, ‘No, I sent you the bigger ones,’” recalls Robinson. “We realized they must have changed while they were in flight. And that unleashed a cascade of questions and experiments that led us to this new finding.”
Banin, Robinson, and Hanrath deduced that the particles had transformed during their trip from Ithaca to Jerusalem. “On the flight, there must have been moisture in the cargo bin and the samples switched their phase,” Banin explained.
Isomerization – the transformation of a molecule into another molecule with the same atoms, just in a different arrangement – is common in nature. Often it’s sparked by the addition of energy, as when light causes a molecule in the retina to switch, enabling us to see; or how olive oil, when heated too high, isomerizes into the unhealthy form known as a trans-fat. Bulk materials such as graphite can also change phases—into diamonds, for example—but they require a lot more energy and the change occurs more gradually, with the change spreading slowly across the molecule.
For years, scientists have sought the bridge between the two worlds: between big materials that change more slowly, and small, organic materials that can flip back and forth coherently, between two states. This remained the elusive missing link in nanoscientists’ quest to map and understand the crossover from molecular isomerization to phase transitions. To discover this bridge, they needed to find at what size nanocrystals will change their internal structure in a single, swift step, like molecules do during isomerization. Banin and Robinson found that magic number on a fortuitous flight from Ithaca to Jerusalem.
The joint Hebrew University-Cornell team began to study transition in small cluster molecules, specifically “magic size nanoclusters.” These clusters contain only 57 atoms—making them bigger than your typical molecules but still much smaller than bulk materials, like graphite or diamonds. The team revealed that the transition in these clusters—as they changed from one structure (or phase) to another—took place in a single step, as is the case for isomerization in small molecules. In this way, the team found the missing link between bulk phase transitions and molecular isomerization.
Though further research is needed, possible future applications include using these particles as switches in computing or as sensors, Banin shared. The discovery could also have uses relating to quantum computing or as a seed for the generation of larger nanoparticles.
“One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein could not have predicted that his Theory of Relativity would be the basis for GPS systems and the Waze app which we’ve come to rely on for navigation. Nanoclusters are chemicals that can be used to create other larger materials. Being able to manipulate their precise changeover from one state to another could have many significant applications down the road,“ Banin concluded.
CITATION: Chemically reversible isomerization of inorganic clusters. Curtis B. Williamson, Douglas R. Nevers, Andrew Nelson, Ido Hadar, Uri Banin, Tobias Hanrath, Richard D. Robinson. DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9464
FUNDING: National Science Foundation, European Research Council, U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program.
Hebrew U team develops shape-shifting 3D printed pills for better targeted drugs
Researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a new way to create drug capsules using 3D printers, a step that will help pave the way for pills that can be tailored to perform better than the conventional capsules manufactured today.
The custom-printed pills are made out of a hydrogel in which the medication is inserted, said Professor Shlomo Magdassi, head of the Hebrew University’s 3D and Functional Printing Center, who developed the technology together with Dr. Ofra Benny, a researcher at Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research. The substance has the consistency of malabi, a Middle Eastern milk pudding, Magdassi said.
The technology enables the creation of pills with complex designs, he explained, from star-shaped to crystalline to round, that can expand, change shape and be activated on a preset schedule. This is currently not possible, or very expensive to do, in conventional pharmaceutical manufacturing techniques. The flexibility enables the capsules to expand or release their medication at the location they need to target.
For example, Magdassi said, a tablet can be printed that can swell in the stomach to give a feeling of fullness, or to only release its medication in the intestine, where acidity is lower than in the stomach. It will also allow doctors to more specifically tailor the dosage of the drugs to individual patients.
“These 3D printed objects will be able to change shape through contact with water, or humidity – enabling them to open only under certain conditions,” said Magdassi, who is also a member of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Institute of Chemistry at the university.
The 3D pills are just one of the technologies developed by researchers at The Hebrew University. The university has set up a 3D printing center in which researchers, startups, artists, “people from different fields” can come to utilize the various printers and implement their new ideas, Magdassi said.
“This technology is bringing us closer to a future in which the medical field can offer personalized, patient-centered care,” said Dr. Yaron Daniely, CEO and president of Yissum, the technology transfer company of the university, in a statement announcing the development of the technology.
The 3D printed hydrogels are just one of many innovations that will be presented at the 2nd annual conference, 3D Printing and Beyond, to be held on Wednesday, which will bring to Jerusalem a wide range of global industry leaders and researchers to explore advances in pharmaceuticals, electronics, and defense-related technologies, along with 3D printed food, automotive parts and more.
The key to moving this field forward is to continue to experiment with various disciplines, Magdassi said.
In a 3D printing process, a computer-controlled design shapes a material — like metal powder or a liquid dispersion of metal particles — to create a three-dimensional object. These objects are generally created by adding layers of material, one over the other, Magdassi explained.
Another invention, developed together with Prof. Oded Shosseyov, from the faculty of agriculture, is related to the 3D printing of wood: the researchers have come up with a special ink composition that contains wood flour and glue that will enable 3D printing of wood objects, he said. “We are now towards setting up a new startup company to develop this further,” he said.
3D printing is bringing on “the next industrial revolution,” Magdassi said, in which mass industrial production will move to 3D technology using all kinds of materials — metal, ceramics, glass and wood — to develop a wide variety of products, from shoes to cars and planes.
“Airplanes today already have installed some 10,000 plane parts that are already up in the air,” he said. “We are there, we are really there, and it will take off with many more printed products in the near future.”
3D Printing and Beyond is organized by Magdassi and Dr. Michael Layani of the 3D and Functional Printing Center at the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The conference is sponsored by the Jerusalem Development Authority, Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Israeli company has developed SWIR sensors to provide autonomous cars heightened visual capabilities in restricted visual conditions at significantly reduced cost.
Israeli startup TriEye has announced the completion of a $3 million seed round led by Grove Ventures. Following the investment Grove Ventures managing partner Dov Moran has become chairman of TriEye. The Tel Aviv-based company will use the funds to expand development of its systems, hire more employees and strengthen its global presence.
TriEye has developed a revolutionary visual sensory solution based on short-wave infra-red (SWIR) that has far-reaching implications for several industries including self-driving cars. The system provides an efficient sensory solution for difficult driving conditions including darkness, rain, mist and dust. The company says that SWIR based cameras allow much higher reliability and precision compared with other sensory solutions but are not used in vehicles because of their high cost.
TriEye has developed SWIR sensors to provide autonomous cars heightened visual capabilities in restricted visual conditions at significantly reduced cost. The technology has been developed after many years of research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Prof. Uriel Levy, one of the world’s leading nano-optics experts.
TriEye cofounder and CEO Avi Bakal said, “The company is offering capabilities that in the past were only accessible to defense and aerospace industries and at a minimal cost compared with the past. This capability improves the safety of advanced driver-assistance systems and is a major step forward to the extensive adoption of the technology by the carmakers.”
The Goal: Printing the Perfect Burger from Cellulose
Israeli food tech company Chef-it is about 18-24 months away from disrupting the fast food burger industry, according to Oded Shoseyov, Chef-it’s co-founder. The startup’s secret weapon: cellulose.
Chef-it is developing a machine that can instantly “print” a juicy burger from a cartridge containing plant-based proteins, fats, and flavor components and the aforementioned cellulose, a common fiber that can be manipulated into a variety of textures, including that of beef muscle and fat. Chef-it’s technology uses infrared light to simultaneously cook the food as it prints.
According to Mr. Shoseyov, a professor of plant molecular biology, protein engineering and nano-biotechnology at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Chef-it can imitate the flavor effect of different cooking styles, such as grilling, baking, and frying.
A prototype of this machine, located at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot, in central Israel, currently takes 10 minutes to print a single burger, Mr. Shoseyov told Calcalist in an interview Tuesday. Chef-it’s team is hard at work bringing the printing time down to three minutes, he added.
The company’s first target markets include coworking spaces, offices, and food trucks, Mr. Shoseyov said. The company successfully printed its first burger six months ago and is expecting to hit the market within two years.
A fast and convincing alternative to meat, Chef-It is setting out to deliver products that are environmentally-friendly and potentially healthier than traditional processed foods. Cellulose, Mr. Shoseyov says, has a zero glycemic and caloric value.
Along with Scientific co-founder Ido Braslavski, Mr. Shoseyov began the research behind Chef-It’s technology in 2013. In 2016, the company received a $282,000 (NIS 1 million) grant from Israel’s government innovation investment arm. Currently employing a team of eight, the company is in the process of raising a $2 million funding round, which Mr. Shoseyov said is expected to complete within two months.
The global meat industry is ripe for disruption, being one of the world’s biggest polluters, generating as much greenhouse gas emissions as all of the world’s cars, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes combined, and using 30% of all land and over 25% of all freshwater on Earth, Mr. Shoseyov said Monday speaking at a Food and Tech conference. The conference was hosted by Calcalist, and by Israel’s Bank Leumi at Labs TLV, a co-working and events space in central Tel Aviv.
By using cellulose as a malleable binder, Chef-It could potentially print every type of food known to men, and even invent new foods, Mr. Shoseyov said.
As a first target, the company set out to print the perfect its burger. By utilizing adjustable infrared cooking levels the company hopes it can get it just right.
“We are a few months away from delivering a burger that is indistinguishable from the real thing,” Mr. Shoseyov said.