Particles 4D

Research Activities


Selected Publications


Welcome to the Particles 4D group. We design particle-enabled approaches to address clinical needs in disease etiology, diagnostics and drug delivery.

Our activities are centered around

  1. a better understanding of disease etiology by employing particle-based model systems (Disease Etiology),
  2. the development of particle-based biosensors (Diagnostics), and
  3. the design of particles for targeted drug delivery (Drug Delivery).

The design specs for our particle-based solutions are given by the clinical problem to be solved. We design our particle-based solutions bottom up in close exchange with our clinical collaborators as well as academic partner institutions around the world. We have expertise in particle synthesis and functionalization, characterization and imaging of particle-based systems, as well as translational nanomedicine.

Theranostic Magnetic Blood Purification


We develop a theranostic nanoparticle-based approach that allows capturing of pathogenic compounds from blood and rapid identification of the pathogen enabling doctors to then start appropriate treatment in due time.

This project is supported by the Novartis Foundation for medical-biological research.



Tissue Glue for Integrative Wound Care and Regenerative Medicine


We engineer fully resorbable bioactive nanoparticle-based tissue glues that allow surgeons to achieve rapid hemostasis and wound closing and optimally support the natural healing process by releasing bioactive compounds.

We acknowledge support from the Bangerter Rhyner Foundation!




We employ a combinatorial materials science approach that enables us for the first time to integrate structural information of the mineral with biochemical information. In this way, we achieve a fresh view on complex biomineralization mechanisms involved in pathological calcification and gain new insights into the underlying processes that can then be leveraged to develop novel curative strategies.

These activities are kindly supported by the Swiss Heart Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation and are carried out in close collaboration with Dr. S. Bertazzo, University College London, UK and the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen KSSG.


Multiscale Correlative BioImaging


We develop a new method that allows us to integrate the major imaging methods used in biology, from the micro to the macro scale. With this approach we are able to correlate data from the key imaging methods used by today’s biologists and biochemists thereby providing groundwork to significantly advance the holistic understanding of both physiological and pathological processes by linking structural with functional information.

This project is carried out in close collaboration with the Bertazzo Lab at the University College London, UK. We acknowledge support from the European Union Seventh Framework Programm ESTEEM2. 



Particle Characterization Lab & Measurement Science


We host a particle characterization lab where we investigate colloidal stability of inorganic (metal and metal oxides) and organic particles (liposomes, polymerosomes and exosomes) under a range of physiologically relevant conditions. We are part of the European Nanoparticle Characterization Lab project (EU-NCL).  In addition to characterizing colloidal suspensions, we develop tools for online monitoring of reactions on particle surfaces. Our particle characterization instruments (including a Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis Instrument with Fluorescence module and a Malvern Zeta sizer) are accessible to other users within and outside of Empa.







Dr. Inge K. Herrmann, Group Leader Particles 4D

, +41 (0)58 765 71 53


Alma Mater: ETH Zurich

Keywords: Chemical Engineering, Particle Synthesis and Functionalization, Bioimaging, Translational Research


Dr. Matthias Rösslein, Senior Scientist

Alma Mater: University of Basel

Keywords: Physical Chemistry, Particle Characterization, Measurement Science, Bioinformatics, Next Generation Sequencing


Mr. Adrian Wichser, Analytics Specialist (shared with 502)

Keywords: Analytical Chemistry, Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Chemical Digestion


Ms. Kerda Keevend, PhD student

Alma Mater: University of Tartu

Key words: Chemistry, Synthesis, Microwave-assisted Synthesis


Mr. Tino Matter, PhD student

Alma Mater: University of Basel

Key words: Nanotechnology, Physics, Programming


Mr. Alexandre Anthis, PhD student

Alma Mater: University of Geneva

Key words: Chemistry, Polymer chemistry, Analytics, Entrepreneurship


Mrs. Behnaz Ghaemi, Visiting PhD student

Alma Mater: University of Tehran

Key words: Nanoparticle synthesis, Radiotherapy


Mr. Dimitri Hürlimann, MSc student

Alma Mater: University of Basel


Ms. Egle Truska, MSc student

Alma Mater: University of Tartu


Mr. Lukas Gerken, MSc

Alma Mater: University of Cologne, D

Key words: Physics, Nanoparticle Synthesis, Optical Properties of Nanomaterials



Mr. Marco Galli, Visiting PhD student, 2016

Alma Mater: University of Milan

Key words: Particle Synthesis, Nanotechnology, Spectroscopy, Inorganic Chemistry


Ms. Anna Lena Neuer, MSc student, 2016

Alma Mater: University of Konstanz

Key words: Biology, Biochemistry


Mr. Samuel Staubli, 2016

Alma Mater: ETH Zurich

Key words: Biochemistry, Biology, Computational Chemistry, Computer-Assisted Drug Design


Mr. Louis Didierlaurent, MSc student, 2016-2017

Alma Mater: Ecole Superieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon, FR

Key words: Engineering, Molecular Biology


Mr. Nino Demarmels, MSc student, 2016-2017

Alma Mater: ETH Zurich

Key words: Health Sciences, Assay Development, Nutrition



Therapeutics, Drug Delivery and Personalized Health

N. Bohmer, N. Demarmels, E. Tsolaki, L. Gerken, K. Keevend, S. Bertazzo, M. Lattuada, I.K. Herrmann, Removal of Cells from Body Fluids by Magnetic Separation in Batch and Continuous Mode: Influence of Bead Size, Concentration and Contact Time, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2017, accepted.

A. Spyrogianni, I.K. Herrmann, K. Keevend, S.E. Pratsinis, K. Wegner, The Silanol Content and in vitro Cytolytic Acitivity of flame-made Silica, J. Colloid Interface Science, 2017, accepted.

M.T. Matter, F. Starsich, M. Galli, M. Hilber, A.A. Schlegel, S. Bertazzo, S.E. Pratsinis, I.K. Herrmann, Developing a tissue glue by engineering the hemostatic and adhesive properties of metal oxide nanoparticles, Nanoscale, 2017, accepted. *** Altmetric Top 5% of all research outputs!

G. Fuhrmann, A.L. Neuer, I.K. Herrmann, Extracellular vesicles - a promising avenue for the detection and treatment of infectious diseases, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics , 2017, accepted.

K. Keevend, M. Stiefel, A.L. Neuer, M.T. Matter, A. Neels, S. Bertazzo, I.K. Herrmann*, Tb3+-doped LaF3 nanocrystals for correlative cathodoluminescence electron microscopy imaging with nanometric resolution in focus ion beam-sectioned biological samples, Nanoscale, accepted, 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C6NR09187C. *Altmetric Top 25%.

M. Rösslein, N. Liptrott, A. Owen, P. Boisseau, P. Wick, I.K. Herrrmann*, Sound understanding of enivronmental, health and safety, clinical and market aspects is imperative to clinical translation of nanomedicines, Nanotoxicology, accepted, 2016.

M. Lattuada, Q. Ren, F. Zuber, M. Galli, N. Bohmer, M.T. Matter, A. Wichser, S. Bertazzo, G.B. Pier, I.K. Herrmann*, Theranostic Body Fluid Cleansing: Rationally designed magnetic particles enable capturing and detection of bacterial pathogens, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, accepted, DOI: 10.1039/C6TB01272H (2016) *senior author **featured on the back cover ***Altmetric top 5%

A. Spyrogianni, I. K. Herrmann, M. S. Lucas, J-C. Leroux, S.E. Pratsinis & G. A. Sotiriou, Quantitative analysis of the deposited nanoparticle dose on cell cultures by optical absorption spectroscopy, Nanomedicine, 11(19):2483-96 (2016)

I.K. Herrmann*, B. Beck-Schimmer, C.M. Schumacher, S. Gschwind, A. Kaech, U. Ziegler, P.A. Clavien, D. Günther, W.J. Stark, R. Graf, A. Schlegel, In vivo Risk Evaluation of Carbon-Coated Iron Carbide Nanoparticles based on Short- and Long-Term Exposure Scenarios, Nanomedicine, 11(7):783-96, (2016). *corresponding author

M. Jacobson, B. Roth Z'graggen, S. Graber, C.M. Schumacher, W.J. Stark, C. Dumrese, J. Mateos, C. Aemisegger, U. Ziegler, M. Urner, I.K. Herrmann*, B. Beck-Schimmer*, Uptake of Ferromagnetic Carbon-encapsulated Metal Nanoparticles in Endothelial Cells: Influence of Shear Stress and Endothelial Activation,  Nanomedicine, 10 (24), 3537-3546 (2015). *co-senior author

I.K. Herrmann* and M. Rösslein, Personalized Medicine: The enabling Role of Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, 11(1):1-3 (2016). *corresponding author

I.K. Herrmann*, How Nanotechnology-enabled concepts could contribute to the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of bacterial infections, accepted, Critical Care, 19, 239-241, 2015. *corresponding author **highly-accessed

L. Bircher, O.M. Theusinger, S. Locher, P. Eugster, B. Roth-Z’graggen, C.M. Schumacher, J.-D. Studt, W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer, I.K. Herrmann*, Characterization of Carbon-Coated Magnetic Nanoparticles using Clinical Blood Coagulation Assays: Effect of PEG-Functionalization and Comparison to Silica Nanoparticles, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2, 3753-58 (2014). *corresponding author

I.K. Herrmann*, A. Schlegel, R. Graf, C.M. Schumacher, N. Senn, S. Gschwind, A.M. Hirt, D. Günther, P.-A. Clavien,  W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer, Nanomagnet-based removal of lead and digoxin from living rats, Nanoscale, 5(18), 8718-23 (2013). *corresponding author. Featured in RSC Chemistry World (most read article in July 2013), RSC blog, Materials360online and the Swiss Innovation Report issued by the Swiss Government (SER).

C.M. Schumacher, I.K. Herrmann, S.B. Bubenhofer, S. Gschwind, A.M. Hirt, B. Beck-Schimmer, D. Günther and W.J. Stark, Quantitative Recovery of Magnetic Nanoparticles from Flowing Blood: Trace Analysis and the Role of Magnetization, Advanced Functional Materials, 23(39), 4888-96 (2013). Featured on cover of the Advanced Functional Materials, 23(39), 1, 2013. Featured in Materials Views.

I.K. Herrmann, M. Urner, S. Graf, C.M. Schumacher, B. Roth-Z’Graggen, M. Hasler, W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer,  Endotoxin Removal by Magnetic Separation-based Blood Purification, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2(6), 829-35 (2013). Featured as frontispiece image in Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2(6), 828 (2013).

I.K. Herrmann, M. Urner, M. Hasler, B. Roth-Z’Graggen, C. Aemisegger, W. Baulig, E.K. Athanassiou, S. Regenass, W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer, Iron Core/Shell Nanoparticles as Magnetic Drug Carriers: Possible Interactions with the Vascular Compartment, Nanomedicine, 6, 1199-1213 (2011).

I.K. Herrmann, R.E. Bernabei, M. Urner, R.N. Grass, B. Beck-Schimmer, W.J. Stark, Device for Continuous Extracorporeal Blood Purification using Target-specific Metal Nanomagnets, Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 26 (9), 2948-2954 (2011). Featured in MIT Technology Report Review.

R. Fuhrer, I.K. Herrmann, E.K. Athanassiou, W.J. Stark, Immobilized  β-Cyclodextrin on carbon coated cobalt nanomagnets: reversible organic contaminant adsorption and enrichment from water, Langmuir, 27(5), 1924-9 (2011).

I.K. Herrmann, M. Urner, F.M. Koehler, M. Hasler, B. Roth Z’Graggen, R.N. Grass, U. Ziegler, B. Beck-Schimmer, W.J. Stark, Blood Purification using Core/Shell Nanomagnets, Small, 6 (13) 1388-1392 (2010). Featured in Nature Nanotechnology, 5, 628 (2010).

I.K. Herrmann, R.N. Grass, D. Mazunin, W.J. Stark, Synthesis and Covalent Surface Functionalization of Nonoxidic Iron Core-Shell Nanomagnets, Chemistry of Materials 21(14), 3275-81 (2009).



C.S. Almeida, I.K. Herrmann, P. Howes, M.M. Stevens, Tailoring cellular uptake of conjugated polymer nanoparticles using modular amphiphilic peptide capping ligands, Chemistry of Materials, 27 (19), 6879–6889, (2015).

I.K. Herrmann*, S. Bertazzo, D.J.P. O’Callaghan, A. Schlegel, C. Kallepitis, D. Antcliffe, A.C. Gordon, M.M. Stevens*, Differentiating Sepsis from Non-Infectious Systemic Inflammation based on Microvesicle-Bacteria Aggregation, Nanoscale, 7(32):13511-20 (2015). *co-corresponding author


Sepsis and Critical Care Medicine

Q. Flamant, C. Caravaca, S. Meille, L.Grémillard, J. Chevalier, K. Biotteau, M. Kuntz, R. Chandrawati, I.K. Herrmann, C.D. Spicer, M.M. Stevens, M. Anglada, Selective etching of injection molded zirconia thoughend alumina towards osseointegrated and antibacterial ceramic implants, Acta Biomaterialia, in press (2016).

M. Urner, M. Schläpfer, I.K. Herrmann, M. Hasler, R.C. Schimmer, C. Booy, B. Roth-Z’graggen, H. Rehrauer, F. Aigner, R.D. Minshall, W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer, Insight into the beneficial immunomodulatory mechanism of the sevoflurane metabolite hexafluoro-2-propanol in a rat model of endotoxemia, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 181(3):468-479 (2015).

I.K. Herrmann, M. Castellon, D.E. Schwartz, M. Hasler, M. Urner, G. Hu, R.D. Minshall, B. Beck-Schimmer,  Intravenous Hexafluoroisopropanol Application improves Outcome in Murine Septic Peritonitis, PLoS One,  8(8), e72057 (2013).

I.K. Herrmann, M. Castellon, D.E. Schwartz, M. Hasler, M. Urner, G. Hu, R.D. Minshall, B. Beck-Schimmer,  Volatile Anesthetics Improve Survival after Cecal Ligation and Puncture, Anesthesiology, 119(4), 901-6 (2013). Featured in editorial views.

M. Urner, I.K. Herrmann, C. Booy , B. Roth-Z’Graggen, M. Maggiorini, B. Beck-Schimmer, Effect of Hypoxia and Dexamethasone on Inflammation and Ion Channel Function in Lung Cells, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 169(2), 119-28 (2012). 

M. Urner, I.K. Herrmann, F. Buddeberg, C. Schuppli , B. Roth-Z’Graggen, M. Hasler, U. Schanz, M. Mehr, D.R. Spahn, B. Beck-Schimmer, Effects of Blood Products on Inflammatory Response in Endothelial Cells in vitro,  PLoS One,  7(3), e33403 (2012).

M. Urner, L.K. Limbach, I.K. Herrmann, W.J. Stark, B. Beck-Schimmer, Fluorinated carbon groups mediate the immunomodulatory effects of volatile anesthetics, American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 45(3), 617-24 (2011).

J Mater Chem Back Cover
Dr. Inge Katrin Herrmann

Dr. Inge Katrin Herrmann
Group Leader

Chemical Engineering, Particle Synthesis and Functionalization, Bioimaging, Translational Research

Phone: +41 58 765 7153


Kerda Keevend has been awarded the Best Oral Presentation Award at the 2017 Empa PhD Symposium! Congrats!!!

Semester and Master Thesis projects available! !

Tino's paper on surgical adhesives published in Nanoscale has been featured in the Nanoscale blog and national and international newspapers! Altmetric Top 5% of all research outputs!

Paper on magnetic cell removal published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces! In collaboration with AMI's Marco Lattuada, and the Bertazzo group at UCL!

Paper on extracellular vesicles and infectious diseases in collaboration with the Fuhrmann lab at HIPS accepted in EJPB

Watch the Magnetic Blood Purification Revisited! lecture given at last year's CLINAM!

Kerda's Correlative cathodoluminescene electron microscopy (CCLEM) paper featured on the back cover of Nanoscale! 

Kerda Keevend has been awarded a Best Oral Presentation Award for her presentation on correlative bioimaging at this year's PhD symposium. Congratulations Kerda!

Magnetic Blood Purification has been featured in the news (nanowerk, innovation report and Switzerland's most widely read newspaper, amongst others), Altmetric Top 5%

Theranostic blood purification manuscript is featured on the back cover of Journal of Materials Chemistry B (2016). Empa collaboration with AMI's M. Lattuada and Harvard's G. Pier.




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