The Humanion Arkive Year Delta 2018-19
September 24: 2018-September 23:2019
The Arkives
First Published: September 24: 2015




























Matter World















And Open the Painting of Your Songs

Suppose that we express this like this so that we can grasp it
And better craft it to illustrate to elaborate to illumine for us
Being able to understand to elvision to make sense as people
Say and here we find mind you the language and the words

Here we find elements matters whatever they are termed as
Say they are in the pen in the dark waking up through lack
Of light onto light making prints of life and then we have all
The keys of the typewriter as they appear on so that they can

Write life's corallographic compositions keys of life imagine
Energy is at the base as ink in the pen that writes your song
Out of the pen onto the keys and you type away to find her

Busy at all times mother nature a mushroom or an insect or
Other wonders being written out so find you your own pen
Make your own keys and open the painting of your songs

Munayem Mayenin: November 07: 2015






















Image: Boliden

Nataliyamalikite: You Did Not Know: Now You Do

Summit of the Avacha volcano, Kamchatka, Far East Russia. Yellow sulphur
deposits rim the frozen lava lake. The high temperature fumaroles, white smoke,
deposit unusual minerals, including, Nataliyamalikite. Image: Joël Brugger


|| July 04: 2017: Monash University News || ά. In the harshest of environments in far-east Russia, Monash scientists have played a leading role in the discovery of a new mineral, which could revolutionise the future of the mining industry. The mineral, Nataliyamalikite,  is new and did not exist before, explains Professor Joël Brugger, the Lead Author in a recently published paper in American Mineralogist.

It contains thallium, a rare heavy metal most famous for its qualities as a poison. “The discovery of this new mineral means we will be able to better understand how metals are extracted from deep-seated sources within our planet, and concentrated at shallow levels to form economic ore deposits.” Professor Brugger said. “This will give us a unique insight into the processes responsible for the geochemical evolution of our planet.

“And this understanding is required to sustain mining, a key to Australia’s ongoing economic prosperity.” Professor Brugger said. A significant part of the recently published paper is about the formal description and naming of the new mineral, a process overseen by the International Mineralogical Association.

“Our Russian colleague was the first to see the mineral under the electron microscope.” Professor Brugger said. “However, Monash was key to making the naming of the new mineral possible: we combined state-of-the-art sample preparation at our Monash Centre for Electronic Microscopy facility, along with the unique capabilities of the Australian Synchrotron, to obtain the crystal structure of the mineral.

“Understanding the crystal structure is akin to getting the full genome of the new mineral.” Professor Brugger said. “And in the case of Nataliyamalikite this was incredibly difficult as the grains are tiny and almost invisible.”

The new mineral was discovered in the Kamchatka Peninsula, one of the most active volcanic zones in the world, featuring 160 volcanoes including 29 that are active.

According to Professor Brugger, who spent six weeks in the region, it is, also, one of the few remaining wild oases on this planet, a result of politics, off-limit for a long time due to its military significance for the Soviets, as well as, geographical isolation, no road connection to mainland Russia and harsh climate.

Around 150 new minerals are discovered around the world every year and the recently published article by Professor Brugger marks the official birth of one of them. ω.

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Not the April Thesis: This Three Minute Thesis

Image: University of Edinburgh


|| July 02: 2017: University of Edinburgh News || ά. On May 09, under the headline, The Ninth of May Three Minute Thesis: Please, Read This and Head to Research Without Borders at the University of Bristol: Until May 12, The Humanion published the following: ''One, having been raised and having to live by and in a socio-cultural sphere of absolutely hammered in brick-cement-nail-plaster-pacifism, cynicism, distrust, mistrust, pseudo-mistrust, pseudo-brewed anger, self-inflicting-self-fulfilling-prophecy of destructive, negative and horrible a future, looking for, not finding but making something or anything or anyone or everyone but one's self to blame and hate attitude and expect the worst possible of all, everything and everyone because one has accepted the worst in and of oneself, and thus, one sees the world around one as oneself, is responsible for the state of any country or nation where, now, even if the most awe inspiring human being stands to say that it is possible to change this state, into million times better a state and billion times more beautiful a state and this human being shows how it is possible and achievable everyone in that nation, in that country will stand and say: you are a liar and cheat. They will find nothing to 'blame' him so that they get even more angry in the 'defamation' that this human soul has supposedly caused them. And they say, ''How dare you disappoint us: We expected, made up and demanded that you be a cheat, a liar, a self serving bug, an imposter and horrible person and you dare to come here and disappoint us by being none of that.

You dare to take us out of our 'comfortable' misery! And according to this, The Ninth of May Three Minute Thesis, this nation, this country cannot blame anyone else for their misery but themselves. How does such a nation ever get out of this misery? Tell them, this nation, this country, that is replicated by many, many, many, that they still have an infinite source of light, they still have hope in the children, who are their saviours. In The Mad Man's Diary Short Story by Lu Xun, the Mad Man pleads to the world to Save the Children. It is the children, who will save such nation, such country by showing them, how astonishing humanity is and how impossible a beautiful thing it is to believe, to have faith, to have the power to wonder, to ask, how, why, what if, why not, where, by what and to be able to exclaim: how beautiful this is or look the fish has jumped out of the water and the fire of light has caught on its tail or look how the butterfly's image is swimming in the water where the submerged skies and clouds are moving like dancing fishes as the wind blows. Or, look, there's a moon next to your face or your eyes have bloomed as if they are the photon-roses. And, here is the Ninth of May Three Minute Thesis. Dear Reader, please, do not blame us, blame the University of Bristol! They started it! How: This Friday afternoon the members of Bristol public are invited to immerse themselves in a wealth of advanced  local research with a dynamic and interactive showcase, followed by a fast and furious Three-Minute Thesis competition. See! But Our Three Minute thesis is not open for any award or prize or accolade but for our Readers to wonder about. And as you do ponder, this is an invite, please, if you can, do join these events.''

This piece, that follows, however, is not about the University of Bristol but the University of Edinburgh. And there the story is of the Three-Minute-Thesis. A doctoral student from the School of Chemistry has won two prizes in the University’s Three- Minute Thesis competition. The final of the contest, in which PhD students vie to deliver the best research presentation in three minutes using one slide, took place in the Informatics Forum. The competition winner was Mr Euan Doidge from the School of Chemistry with his presentation ‘WEEE are Golden: metal recovery by solvent extraction’. Mr Doidge will now go on to represent the University in the UK and Universitas 21 competitions. The contest’s runner-up was Ms Issy MacGregor from the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine with her presentation ‘Meiotic Recombination: The Great Genetic Bake Off’. The audience members also voted to award the People’s Choice prize to Mr Euan Doidge. Nine finalists from the University’s three Colleges competed in the sell-out final, which was streamed live online. They included Ms Isobel MacGregor and Mr Toby Gurran from MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Ms Laura Glendinning from the Roslin Institute.

Also, taking part were Ms Lulu Tucker from the School of Chemistry and Ms Jennifer Dodoo from the School of Engineering. Mr William Kerr and Mr Tim Squirrell from the School of Social and Political Science competed, alongside Ms Vanitha Subramaniam from the School of Health in Social Science.

First developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, the Three-MT competition challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience. It enables doctoral students to showcase their work and can open doors to new collaborations and networks for researchers and supervisors. ω.

About 3 Minute Thesis

Institute for Academic Development

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Scientists Unlock Four-Fold Increase in Performance of a Green Energy Catalyst

Colourised transmission electron microscopy of ceria ultrathin film shows that individual atoms shown
as dots shift under intense pressure. Image: Sang Chui Lee.

|| May 21: 2017: Trinity College Dublin News || ά. A tiny amount of squeezing or stretching can produce a big boost in catalytic performance, according to a new collaborative study involving scientists from Trinity College Dublin, Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Pennsylvania. The discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, focuses on an industrial catalyst, known as cerium oxide or ceria, a spongy material, commonly used in catalytic converters, self-cleaning ovens and various green-energy applications, such as fuel cells and solar water splitters.

Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford and a faculty scientist at SLAC, Will Chueh, was Co-author. He said, “Ceria stores and releases oxygen as needed, like a sponge. We discovered that stretching and compressing ceria by a few percent dramatically increases its oxygen storage capacity. This finding overturns conventional wisdom about oxide materials and could lead to better catalysts.” Ceria has long been used in catalytic converters to help remove air pollutants from vehicle exhaust systems. It essentially takes oxygen from poisonous nitrogen oxide to create harmless nitrogen gas.

The ceria then releases stored oxygen and converts lethal carbon monoxide into benign carbon dioxide. Studies have shown that squeezing and stretching ceria causes nanoscale changes that affect its ability to store oxygen. In particular, it has been suggested that stretching ceria would increase its capacity to store oxygen, whereas compressing it would decrease this capacity.

To test this prediction, the research team grew ultrathin films of ceria, each just a few nanometers thick, on top of substrates made of different materials. This process subjected the ceria to enormous stress equal to 10,000 times the Earth’s atmosphere and caused the molecules of ceria to separate and squeeze together a distance of less than one nanometer. Surprise results

Typically, materials like ceria relieve stress by forming defects in the film. But atomic-scale analysis showed a surprise. Analysis of the position of individual atoms showed that the films of ceria remained stretched or compressed without forming any defects, allowing the stress to remain in full force.

To measure and rationalise the impact of stress under real-world operating conditions, the researchers then used the brilliant beams of X-ray light produced at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source along with supercomputers. The results were even more surprising.

Ussher Assistant Professor in the School of Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin, Max García Melchor, said, “Whether we stretched or compressed the ceria we found that the strained films showed a fourfold increase in oxygen capacity, which is pretty huge. There are a lot of potential applications for this in using catalysis to improve the efficiency of energy conversion and storage, including in green-energy technologies.”

“We hope that we may use this discovery to develop new clean fuels from carbon dioxide or water to power our cars and homes, for example.”

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Well Aligned Tellurium Nanowires Realise High Performance Photo-Detector

Figure One:a: SEM image of as-prepared Te Nanowires.
Inset shows the diameter distribute of the product.
One:b: Time dependent photocurrent response to 980 nm
pulsed incident light with a period of 60 s under
77 K and bias voltages of 1.0 V. Image: Zhong Binnian


|| April 18: 2017: Chinese Academy of Sciences News || ά. A Chinese research team, led by Professor Fei Guangtao, from Institute of Solid State Physics, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported a facile route to synthesise uniform Tellurium Nanowires:TeNWs in large quantity by a PVP-assisted solvo-thermal process under mild conditions, which was accepted as back cover image of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. According to studies, one-dimensional nanomaterials, such as nanowires:NWs, nanorods, nanotubes, have been intensively explored due to their fundamental properties and potential applications.

Among them, as a narrow direct band gap semiconductor, 0.35 eV, tellurium:Te displays interesting optical properties. Currently, considerable efforts have been made to synthesise the Te nanomaterials by solution-based approaches, however, which have drawbacks, such as the hazardous chemicals, such as NaBH4, NH2OH, N2H4·H2O and NH4:2:S2 as reducing agents and extreme operating conditions. Low-temperature green chemical synthesis in aqueous solution is highly desirable because it is an environmentally benign and user-friendly approach, which, may be, considered to be a relatively practical alternative for industrialisation.

It has been shown that most advantageous nano-device configuration requires either a single or a few NWs running parallel to build up a well-defined conduction channel between two electrodes so that such properties can be easily modulated by external stimuli, such as light illumination and magnetic field.

Oil-water interfacial self-assembly is a powerful bottom-up approach for arranging most low-dimensional nanostructures in ordered array. This assembly strategy effectively opens the door for the self-assembly of hydrophilic nanostructures into closely-packed nanofilms.

In their work, the SEM image of the Te nanowires and the diameter distribute of the nanowires are shown in Figure One:a. Then assembled the Te NWs into ordered alignment through stirring-assisted assembling method.

After that, photodetectors, based on well aligned Te NWs film were fabricated. Time dependent photocurrent response to 980 nm pulsed incident light with a period of 60 s under 77 K and bias voltages of 01.0 V. The responsivity can reach 86.52 A:W at bias voltage of 01.0 V.

The photodetector, based on the well aligned Te NWs film had a series of more excellent photoelectric properties than that being randomly oriented. For example, the photoresponsivity of the forward is 103 times larger and the response time is 01.15×103 times shorter than the latter.

The study is sponsored by National Basic Research Programme of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the CAS:SAFEA International Partnership Programme for Creative Research Teams and the Foundation of Director of Institute of Solid State Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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How to Capture Selectively: That Is the Question

Amaze. Copyright ESA-N. Vicente

|| April 13: 2017: Swansea University News || ά. Natural gas producers want to draw all the methane they can from a well while sequestering as much carbon dioxide as possible and could use filters, that optimise either carbon capture or methane flow. No single filter will do both. Now Scientists based at Swansea University and Rice University in Texas, know how to fine-tune sorbents for their needs. Subtle adjustments in the manufacture of a polymer-based carbon sorbent make it the best-known material either for capturing the greenhouse gas or balancing carbon capture with methane selectivity, according to Chemist Professor Andrew Barron of Rice and Swansea Universities.

The specifics are in a paper this month by Professor Barron and Rice University research scientist Saunab Ghosh in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Sustainable Energy and Fuels. "The challenge is to capture as much carbon as possible while allowing methane to flow through at typical wellhead pressures." Professor Barron said. "We've defined the parameters in a map, that gives industry the best set of options to date." Previous work by the lab determined that carbon filters maxed out their capture ability with a surface area of 2,800 square metres per gram and a pore volume of 01.35 cubic centimetres per gram.

They, also, discovered the best carbon capture material didn't achieve the best trade-off between carbon and methane selectivity. ''With the new work, they know how to tune the material for one or the other.'' Professor Barron said. "The traditional approach has been to make materials with ever-increasing pore volume and relate this to a better adsorbent; however, it appears to be a little more subtle." he said.

‌The lab made its latest filters by heating a polymer precursor and then treating it with a chemical activation reagent of potassium, oxygen and hydrogen, aka KOH. When the polymer is baked with KOH at temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius, 932 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes a highly porous filter, full of nanoscale channels, that can trap carbon.

The ratio of KOH to polymer during processing turned out to be the critical factor in determining the final filter's characteristics. Making filters with a 03-to-01 ratio of KOH to polymer gave it a surface area of 2,700 square metres per gram and maximised carbon dioxide uptake under pressures of five to 30 bar. One bar is slightly less than the average atmospheric pressure at sea level.

Filters made with a 02-to-01 ratio of KOH to polymer had less surface area, 2,200 square metres per gram and a lower pore volume. That resulted in the optimum combination of carbon dioxide uptake and methane selectivity.

The size of the pores was critical as well. Filters with maximum carbon uptake had the largest fraction of pores smaller than 02 nanometres. Bigger pores were better for methane selectivity.

"It appears that total pore volume is less important than the relative quantity of pores at specific sizes." Professor Barron said. "Our goal was to create a guide for researchers and industry to design better materials.

Not only can these materials be used for carbon dioxide separation from natural gas but they are, also, models for carbon dioxide sequestration in a natural resource. This is the future direction of our research."

Professor Barron is the Charles W. Duncan Jr. Welch Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Materials Science and Nanoengineering at Rice University. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Photocatalyst Development for Highly Selective Carbon Dioxide Conversion

Illustration for the selective conversion of carbon dioxide, based on the lattice
engineering of catalytic sites in photocatalysts: Image: Xiong Yujie and Journal
of the American Chemical Society

|| April 02: 2017: University of Science and Technology of China News || ά. A significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the past decades has been widely recognised as a global environment problem. For this reason, a large number of investigations have been performed for the reduction of carbon dioxide. In particular, the photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide with water into methane is an appealing approach, which allows the transformation of carbon dioxide into a carbon-neutral fuel by harvesting solar energy.

Despite the promising future, this approach has faced a grand challenge in terms of reaction activity and selectivity. Most recently, the research group led by Professor Xiong Yujie at the University of Science and Technology of China, has discovered that the isolation of copper sites in palladium lattice promotes the conversion selectivity of carbon dioxide to methane, based on the lattice engineering on the catalytic sites of photocatalysts. This work has been published in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The activity and selectivity have yet to be significantly improved for two reasons: i: carbon dioxide molecules possess very low reactivity in chemical transformations, limiting the catalytic activity; and ii: multiple side reactions, such as the reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide and the hydrogen evolution from water reduction simultaneously take place, lowering the reaction selectivity.

Previous studies indicate that copper sites exhibit excellent performance in the adsorption and activation of carbon dioxide molecules and, thus, can serve as catalytic sites integrated with semiconductor photocatalysts. However, the metallic Cu materials at the nanoscale heavily suffer from oxidation and often provide multiple pathways for catalytic reactions.

To address this grand challenge, Xiong research group has incorporated single-atom copper sites into palladium lattice, which can largely prevent the oxidation of copper sites. Meanwhile, the strong binding of hydrogen to palladium can suppress hydrogen evolution and other side reactions in photocatalytic carbon dioxide conversion.

Based on the bimetallic palladium-copper structures, the researchers have further combined synchrotron radiation-based X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy characterization, in-situ infrared spectroscopy detection and theoretical simulations to establish the structure-property relationship between catalytic sites and carbon dioxide conversion performance. Taking titania photocatalyst as an example, the conversion selectivity carbon dioxide to methane in photocatalysis achieves 96% by Pd7Cu1-TiO2.

This design is also applicable to visible-responsive photocatalysts, which can be implemented in photocatalytic carbon dioxide conversion under visible illumination. This work provides fresh insights into the catalytic site design for selective photocatalytic carbon dioxide conversion, and highlights the importance of catalyst lattice engineering at atomic precision to catalytic performance.

Professor Li Song, Professor Junfa Zhu, Professor Zeming Qi and Professor Jun Jiang made important contributions to the synchrotron radiation-based X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy, photoelectron spectroscopy, in-situ diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier-transform spectroscopy characterisations and theoretical simulations in this work. This work was financially supported by the 973 Program, NSFC and CAS Key Research Programme of Frontier Sciences. ω.

The Paper: This work has been published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, J. Am. Chem. Soc. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b00452

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Here's the Molecular Treasure Map: Now Go and Create New Materials for New Material Stories to Build Cities That Did Not Exist Yet

Molecular packing of material discovered using new method.


|| March 27: 2017: University of Southampton News || ά. Scientists at the University of Southampton working with colleagues at the University of Liverpool have developed a new method, which has the potential to revolutionise the way we search for, design and produce new materials. The researchers used sophisticated computer modelling to map how molecules assemble and crystallise to form new materials, each molecule leading to a myriad of possible structures, each with different properties and possible applications.

This new approach, published in the journal Nature, could accelerate the discovery of materials for key applications in energy, pollution control, pharmaceuticals and a host of other fields. “When an engineer builds a dam or an aeroplane, the structure is first designed using computers. This is extremely difficult at the size scale of molecules or atoms, which often assemble in non-intuitive ways.” explains Professor Graeme Day, a Professor of Chemistry at Southampton. “It is difficult to design at the atomic scale from scratch and the failure rate in new materials discovery is high. As chemists and physicists trying to discover new materials, we often feel like explorers without reliable maps.”

Professor Andrew Cooper, Director of the Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool, says, “Each molecule has an associated energy surface, which you can think of as being like the map of a desert island. Some islands contain treasure in the form of useful new materials, but most don’t. There is an almost limitless number of molecules that we could, in principle, make, this new method tells us which islands to search and what to look for.”

Unlike engineers, chemists are not truly free to make any structure that they want: they are limited to discovering structures, that correspond to the optimised positions of atoms, known as local minima, on a highly complex energy surface. This surface can only be fully represented in many dimensions, so cannot be easily conceptualised.

However, the UK team has combined methods that predict how molecules will form crystal structures, with computer simulations that predict the properties of these structures. The result is relatively simple colour-coded maps which can be used, by researchers without a computational background, to locate the best materials for specific applications. For example, a researcher trying to create a highly porous material to store a particular gas might use the map to identify the best molecules that optimise this property.

In the simulations highlighted in their paper, the researchers applied this new approach to a series of known and hypothetical molecules, which led to the discovery and synthesis of materials with large methane storage capacities, which has ramifications for natural-gas-powered vehicles. The research also led to the synthesis of the least dense molecular crystal that has ever been created, showing how computational methods can be used to discover unprecedented properties.

The project was funded by the European Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council:EPSRC. The work was carried out in the UK but the team included researchers from Spain, China, Poland, Canada and America. ω.

Images: University of Southampton

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What Can We Make of These Before They Disappear Into the Earth: Bradford Making Matter Smarter


|| March 19: 2017: University of Bradford News  || ά.  Ground-breaking research, involving the University of Bradford, into the development of self-healing concrete that could lead to huge savings in maintenance costs and greater protection for the UK's infrastructure has received fresh funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council:EPSRC. The Resilient Materials 4 Life:RM4L project supported with an investment of £04.7 million by EPSRC, will look to build on the success of the Materials 4 Life:M4L project that has led to major advances in the development of transformative construction materials, such as adaptable, self-diagnosing and self-healing materials.

RM4L will be led by Cardiff University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Bath and the University of Bradford as well as industry partners. The overall project cost will be around £6 million, including contributions from partners. M4L was announced in 2013, and led to a number of developments in the field of these innovative new technologies, including the UK’s first self-healing concrete trials using materials such as shape-memory polymers, microcapsules and flow networks containing mineral-based healing agents and calcite forming bacteria.

As part of RM4L, researchers will aim to effect a transformation in construction materials by using the biomimetic approach first adopted in M4L to create smart materials that will adapt to their environment, develop immunity to harmful actions, self-diagnose the onset of deterioration and self-heal when damage.

The project’s findings will benefit bodies and companies responsible for the provision, management and maintenance of built environment infrastructure, and the researchers will work with industry partners in the construction supply chain throughout the duration of RM4L. RM4L represents a further boost for infrastructure research in the UK, after EPSRC announced an investment of £125 million to support the establishment of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities:UKCRIC at 14 universities, earlier this month.

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said, “Resilient Materials 4 Life has the potential to revolutionise the way our infrastructure copes with long-term wear and tear and reduce costs significantly. Moreover, as part of EPSRC’s continuing support for world-leading research in this vital field it will help, through the upgrading of the nation’s infrastructure, to keep the UK a prosperous and resilient nation.”

Professor John Sweeney of the University of Bradford said, “Here at Bradford we will be developing and producing novel and sophisticated shape memory polymers. These will form the basis of a range of smart devices to be incorporated into structural concrete, to act in conjunction with mechanisms developed at the partner universities to produce strong and self-healing civil engineering structures. This is a great boost to Bradford’s expertise in polymer science and technology at a national and international level, and underlines our status as a world-leading technology University.”

Professor Bob Lark, PI for the project welcomed the news of the award by saying, “This is a wonderful opportunity to build on the exciting findings of M4L to ensure that we address the full range of complex damage and response scenarios that are experienced by construction materials. We are confident that our research will have a significant impact on the sustainability of our infrastructure and we are very grateful to EPSRC for their vote of confidence in what we are endeavouring to achieve.”

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Potential Approach to How Radioactive Elements Could Be Fished Out of Nuclear Waste

Image: University of Manchester

|| March 17: University of Manchester News 2017 || ά.  University of Manchester scientists have shown how arsenic molecules might be used to ‘fish out’ the most toxic elements from radioactive nuclear waste, a breakthrough, that could make the decommissioning industry even safer and more effective. Elizabeth Wildman, a PhD student in the research group led by Professor Steve Liddle based at the University, has reported the first examples of thorium with multiple bonds to arsenic to exist under ambient conditions on multi-gram scales, where before they had only been prepared on very small scales at temperatures approaching that of interstellar space, 03-10 Kelvin.

The finding is to be published in the leading journal Nature Communications. “Nuclear power could potentially produce far less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels but the long-lived waste it produces is radioactive and needs to be handled appropriately.” said Elizabeth Wildman, from Manchester’s School of Chemistry. “In order to find ways of separating, recycling and reducing the volume of nuclear waste, research has focussed on developing our understanding of how elements like thorium and uranium interact with elements from around the periodic table to potentially help improve nuclear waste clean-up.”

Professor Liddle, Head of Inorganic Chemistry and Co-Director of the Centre for Radiochemistry Research at the University, added: “We need to reduce the volume of nuclear waste in order to make it easier to handle and process it to remove benign elements or separate the high level from low level waste.”

This research follows up on previous research published on uranium-phosphorus, uranium-arsenic, and thorium-phosphorus chemistry. This latest study looked at how the soft element arsenic interacts with thorium, because arsenic could in principle be used in organic molecules that bond to metal atoms and improve extraction processes.

“There is currently significant interest in using organic molecules to extract, selectively, metal ions from the ‘soup’ of nuclear waste and fish out the more radioactive and toxic ones and leave the rest behind. ” he added. “This requires an understanding of chemical bonding and how the organic extractants bind to different metals. We can then exploit this knowledge to achieve separation by having them selectively bind to one type of metal and remove it from the soup.

There is mounting evidence that the molecules that are best at this contain soft donor atoms to the metals. Thus, we need to understand soft donor-to-metal binding better. Arsenic is a soft donor, so we have prepared model complexes with it to understand the nature of the bonding. Until now, complexes exhibiting multiple bonds between thorium and arsenic were limited to spectroscopic experiments carried out at temperatures close to that of interstellar space  03-10 Kelvin, where only a few molecules were made at a time.

Here, we have made molecules in multi-gram quantities and they are stable under ambient conditions enabling us to study them more straightforwardly. We might be able to use this new knowledge and understanding in a real system in the future.”

The research was carried out in the School of Chemistry in a joint project between the universities of Manchester and Regensburg and was funded and supported by the Royal Society, European Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and COST. ω.

The Paper: 'Triamidoamine Thorium-Arsenic Complexes with Parent Arsenide, Arsinidiide and Arsenido Structural Motifs': E. P. Wildman, G. Balázs, A. J. Wooles, M. Scheer, and S. T. Liddle, Nat. Comm., 2017, 8, 14769.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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New Metamaterials with Their Sound-Shaping Quality Offer New Sphere of Potentials

Left Image: Quantal metamaterial bricks. Right Image: Metamaterial bricks are assembled into a layer to produce a meta-surface,
which could have applications across healthcare and entertainment.
Images: University of Sussex

|| February 28: 2017: University of Bristol News || ά. A super-material that bends, shapes and focuses sound waves that pass through it has been invented by scientists. The creation pushes the boundaries of metamaterials, a new class of finely-engineered surfaces that perform nature-defying tasks. These materials have already shown remarkable results with light manipulation, allowing scientists to create a real-life version of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, for example. But a research team from the Universities of Sussex and Bristol have now shown that they also work with sound waves, which could transform medical imaging and personal audio.

Finely shaped sound fields are used in medical imaging and therapy as well as in a wide range of consumer products such as audio spotlights and ultrasonic haptics. The research published on Monday, February 27 in Nature Communications shows a simple and cheap way of creating these shaped sound waves using acoustic metamaterials. The collaborative research team assembled a metamaterial layer out of lots of small bricks that each coil up space. The space coiling bricks act to slow down the sound meaning that incoming sound waves can be transformed into any required sound field.

The new metamaterial layers could be used in many applications. Large versions could be used to direct or focus sound to a particular location and form an audio hotspot. Much smaller versions could be used to focus high intensity ultrasound to destroy tumours deep within the body. Here, a metamaterial layer could be tailor-made to fit the body of a patient and tuned to focus the ultrasound waves where they are needed most. In both cases the layer could be fitted to existing loudspeaker technology and be made rapidly and cheaply.

Dr Gianluca Memoli, from the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex, who led the study, said,  “Our metamaterial bricks can be three-D printed and then assembled together to form any sound field you can imagine. We also showed how this can be achieved with only a small number of different bricks. You can think of a box of our metamaterial bricks as a do-it-yourself acoustics kit.

Professor Sriram Subramanian, Head of the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex, added, “We want to create acoustic devices that manipulate sound with the same ease and flexibility with which LCDs and projectors do to light. Our research opens the door to new acoustic devices combining diffraction, scattering and refraction, and enables the future development of fully digital spatial sound modulators, which can be controlled in real time with minimal resources.”

Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol, explained, “In the future I think there will be many exciting applications of this technology. We are now working on making the metamaterial layers dynamically reconfigurable. This will mean we can make cheap imaging systems which could be used either for medical diagnostics or crack detection.”

Paper: ‘Metamaterial bricks and quantization of meta-surfaces’ by Memoli, G. et al is published in Nature Communications.

The work is a collaboration between computer scientists at the University of Sussex and engineers from the University of Bristol. ω.

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Molecule That Changes Shape as It Passes Between the States of Liquid and Solid

Image: University of Warwick

|| February 18: 2017: University of Warwick News || ά. An advanced Technology has shown how a particular molecule self-assemble into different forms as it passes between solution state to solid state and back again, an interesting phenomenon in science: claims new research by the University of Warwick. Professor Steven P. Brown from the Department of Physics, with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, has identified that the supramolecular structure of a guanosine derivative can be different upon passing from the solid state into the solution state and vice versa.

This defies chemical precedent, as self-assembled structures driven by the formation of specific intermolecular hydrogen bonds in solution would be expected to remain the same in the solid state. The phenomenon has been observed by the using of advanced nuclear magnetic resonance:NMR facility at Warwick. In solution state, the guanosine derivative analysed by the researchers is constituted by quartet-like molecular structure and scientific intuition would suggests that this should remain like this in the solid state.

However, upon changing into the solid state, the supramolecular assembly surprisingly contains both quartet and ribbon structures. Professor Brown and his colleagues made this discovery using advanced NMR spectroscopy technology, which measures the magnetic response of nuclei at the centre of atoms. The researchers identified the distinct supramolecular states by spotting varying peaks in spectra that identify close approach of these magnetic nuclei in atoms.

Professor Brown comments, “Access to state-of-the-art NMR infrastructure has enabled us to see with chemical precision how the guanosine-based molecules self-assemble, thus revealing the surprising phenomenon of a change in self-assembly upon going changing from solution to solid and from solid to solution.”

The University of Warwick’s national solid-state NMR facility is directed by Professor Brown and a Facility Executive with scientists from 4 other UK universities - and was officially launched in 2010. The facility and this research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The research, ‘Co-existence of Distinct Supramolecular Assemblies in Solution and in the Solid State’, is published in Chemistry: A European Journal – and is designated a Very Important Paper. Professor Brown collaborated with researchers in Italy and the U.S.A. ω.

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The Magic of the Mushrooms: Or Rather Their Science


|| February 05: 2017: University of Bristol News || ά. A new review that investigates the true magic of mushrooms and the many roles they play in our lives, in science and in nature has been published by scientists from the University of Bristol. The paper, which appeared recently in Studies in Mycology, covers model organisms used in scientific study, the edible mushrooms, the decomposers, the deadly and the toxic, all the way through to the life-saving medicinal mushrooms important for medicine

The review, led by Professor Gary Foster and Dr Andy Bailey from the University's School of Biological Sciences, covers such areas as the genus Amanita which contains some of the most poisonous species of fungi known. The type-species is Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, which has a long history for use for 'recreational' or cultural purposes, as well as acknowledged insecticidal properties. Armillaria species are also discussed, which includes A. ostoyae, reportedly the largest organism in the world, with one fungal colony covering around 965 hectares in an Oregon forest, leading to the name of the 'Humongous Fungus'.

The related Armillaria mellea is a highly pathogenic mushroom that is capable of killing mature trees and is the nightmare of many gardeners both in the UK and around the world.  But perhaps even more a potential nightmare for many is Moniliophthora perniciosa a fungus that puts chocolate production at risk, as the fungus is responsible for causing ‘Witches Broom Disease’ in cocoa trees. The fungus causes broom-like growths to sprout from the upper branches of infected trees, these then shower infectious spores onto neighbouring trees and the ground below.

Whilst many will be aware of the white button mushroom, many may not know the full secrets of Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, which is the second most popular edible mushroom, eaten globally. Not many people know that this apparently unassuming species is actually a carnivore. It paralyses and consumes small worms called nematode worms, gaining valuable nitrogen from their bodies.

Dr Kate de Mattos-Shipley, one of the Lead authors, said, "The more time I've spent researching fungal Biology, the more fascinated I've become with the modest mushrooms and their relatives, really quite an astonishing group of organisms. It's been great working with such an accomplished team trying to put into words just how unique and important they are, and I hope through this paper we can convince others of the same."

And one final example from the review, Psilocybe semilanceata, which is one of the best-known psychedelic, or ‘magic’ mushrooms, which causes hallucinations and distortions in time perception. Relatives of this species may have been used ritually as long as 9000 years ago, although the first record of this exact species being consumed was accidental rather than intentional, after a London family went mushroom collecting in St James Park in 1799 and got a bit more than they bargained for!

The review also reflects some of the research strengths and interest of the Bristol Group, which ranges from work on edible mushrooms such as the edible Agaricus, the white button mushroom, the pathogenic tree killer Armillaria, through to the discovery of new antibiotics for human medicine, such as their work on Clitopilus. ω.

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What are These: Well, These are Silicon Pore Optics Stacks

Image: cosine

|| January 08: 2017 || ά. Stacks of carefully polished, coated and cut silicon wafers, normally used to manufacture integrated circuits, that will focus X-rays inside ESA’s Athena space observatory, due for launch in 2028. Invisible X-rays tell us about the very hot matter in the Universe, black holes, supernovas and superheated gas clouds.

But energetic X-rays do not behave like typical light waves, try to reflect them with a standard mirror and they are absorbed. Instead, X-rays can only be reflected at shallow angles, like stones skimming across water. That means multiple mirrors must be stacked together to build a telescope. ESA has developed ‘silicon pore optics’ to see much further into space than the ageing XMM-Newton X-ray observatory.

This approach is based on industrial silicon wafers, taking advantage of their stiffness and super-polished surface. Grooves are cut into the wafers to form pores through which the X-rays are focused.

A few dozen at a time are stacked together to form a single mirror module. Many hundreds of these modules will be combined to form the optics of the X-ray mission. ω.

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Ground-Breaking Production Method Could Accelerate Worldwide Ggraphene Revolution

|| December 17: 2016: University of Exeter News || ά. An innovative new cheap and simple mass production technique, developed by the University of Exeter, is set to open up the global potential of the ‘wonder’ material graphene. A team of engineers from Exeter’s Centre for Graphene Science have developed a new method for creating entire device arrays directly on the copper substrates used for the commercial manufacture of graphene.

Complete and fully-functional devices can then be transferred to a substrate of choice, such as silicon, plastics or even textiles. Professor David Wright, from Exeter’s Engineering department and one of the authors said, “The conventional way of producing devices using graphene can be time-consuming, intricate and expensive and involves many process steps including graphene growth, film transfer, lithographic patterning and metal contact deposition.

Our new approach is much simpler and has the very real potential to open up the use of cheap-to-produce graphene devices for a host of important applications from gas and bio-medical sensors to touch-screen displays.”

To demonstrate the new process, the team have produced a flexible and completely transparent graphene-oxide based humidity sensor that would cost pennies to produce using common wafer-scale or roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques, yet can outperform currently available commercial sensors.

The new research features in the latest online edition of the Institute of Physics’ respected journal, 2D Materials. Professor Monica Craciun, also from Exeter’s engineering department and co-author added, “The University of Exeter is one of the world’s leading authorities on graphene, and this new research is just the latest step in our vision to help create a graphene-driven industrial revolution.

High-quality, low cost graphene devices are an integral part of making this a reality, and our latest work is a truly significant advance that could unlock graphene’s true potential.”

The Exeter engineering team consisted of Dr. Arseny Alexeev, Mr. Matthew Barnes, Dr. Karthik Nagareddy and Profs Craciun and Wright, and the work was carried out as part of the EU-funded FP7 project CareRAMM.

A simple process for the fabrication of large-area CVD graphene based devices via selective in situ functionalization and patterning is published in 2D Materials ω.

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Nanotranslated Dimensions for Nanomaterials

Image: UCL

|| November 22: 2016: UCL News || ά. Two-dimensional two-D nanomaterials have been made by dissolving layered materials in liquids, according to new UCL-led research. The liquids can be used to apply the two-D nanomaterials over large areas and at low costs, enabling a variety of important future applications.  Two-D nanomaterials, such as graphene, have the potential to revolutionise technology through their remarkable physical properties, but their translation into real world applications has been limited due to the challenges of making and manipulating two-D nanomaterials on an industrial scale.

The new approach, published in Nature Chemistry on November 21, produced single layers of many two-D nanomaterials in a scalable way. The researchers used the method on a wide variety of materials, including those with semiconductor and thermoelectric properties, to create two-D materials that could be used in solar cells or for turning wasted heat energy into electrical energy, for example. “Two-D nanomaterials have outstanding properties and a unique size, which suggests they could be used in everything from computer displays to batteries to smart textiles.

Many methods for making and applying two-D nanomaterials are difficult to scale or can damage the material, but we’ve successfully addressed some of these issues. Hopefully our new process will help us realise the potential of two-D nanomaterials in the future.” explained study director Dr Chris Howard at UCL Physics & Astronomy.

For the study, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the scientists inserted positively charged lithium and potassium ions between the layers of different materials including bismuth telluride, Bi2Te3, molybdenum disulphide, MoS2, and titanium disulphide, TiS2, giving each layer a negative charge and creating a ‘layered material salt’.

These layered material salts were then gently dissolved in selected solvents without using chemical reactions or stirring. This gave solutions of two-D nanomaterial sheets with the same shape as the starting material but with a negative charge.

The scientists analysed the contents of the solutions using atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to investigate the structure and thickness of the two-D nanomaterials. They found that the layered materials dissolved into tiny sheets of clean, undamaged, single layers, isolated in solutions.

The team from UCL, University of Bristol, Cambridge Graphene Centre and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, were able to demonstrate that even the two-D nanomaterial sheets, comprising millions of atoms, made stable solutions rather than suspensions.

“We didn’t expect such a range of two-D nanomaterials to form a solution when we simply added the solvent to the salt, the layered material salts are large but dissolve into liquid similar to table salt in water. The fact that they form a liquid along with their negative charge, makes them easy to manipulate and use on a large scale, which is scientifically intriguing but also relevant to many industries.” said first author Dr Patrick Cullen at UCL Chemical Engineering.

“We’ve shown they can be painted onto surfaces and, when left to dry, can arrange themselves into different tiled shapes, which hasn’t been seen before. They can also be electroplated onto surfaces in much the same way gold is used to plate metals. We’re looking forward to making different two-D nanomaterials using our process and trying them out in different applications as the possibilities are near endless.” he concluded.

UCL Business PLC:UCLB, the technology commercialisation company of UCL has patented this research and will be supporting the commercialisation process. ω.

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It's All in the TiN: Nanoparticle Boost for Solar-Powered Water Heating

A new nanofluid made by WPI‒MANA researchers from titanium nitride-based:TiN
nanoparticles shows high efficiency in heating water and generating water vapour from sunlight.

|| November 22: 2016: WPI-MANA News: Tsukuba: Japan || ά. A highly-efficient, nanoparticle-based method for heating water and generating water vapour from sunlight is demonstrated by WPI-MANA scientists in Japan. Solar energy could provide a renewable, sustainable source of power for our daily needs. However, even the most advanced solar cells struggle to achieve energy conversion efficiency of higher than 30%. While current solar-powered water heaters fare better in terms of energy efficiency, there are still improvements to be made if the systems are to be used more widely.

One potential candidate for inclusion in solar water heaters is 'nanofluid' that is, a liquid containing specially-designed nanoparticles that are capable of absorbing sunlight and transforming it into thermal energy in order to heat water directly. Satoshi Ishii and his co-workers at the International Centre for Materials Nanoarchitectonics:WPI-MANA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency have developed a new nanofluid containing titanium nitride:TiN nanoparticles, which demonstrates high efficiency in heating water and generating water vapour.

The team analytically studied the optical absorption efficiency of a TiN nanoparticle and found that it has a broad and strong absorption peak thanks to lossy plasmonic resonances. Surprisingly, the sunlight absorption efficiency of a TiN nanoparticle outperforms that of a carbon nanoparticle and a gold nanoparticle.

They then exposed each nanofluid to sunlight and measured its ability to heat pure water. The TiN nanofluid had the highest water heating properties, stemming from the resonant sunlight absorption. It also generated more vapour than its carbon‒based counterpart. The efficiency of the TiN nanofluid reached nearly 90%. Crucially, the TiN particles were not consumed during the process, meaning a TiN‒based heating system could essentially be self‒sustaining over time.

TiN nanofluids show great promise in solar heat applications, with high potential for use in everyday appliances such as showers. The new design could even contribute to methods for decontaminating water through vapourisation.

References: "Titanium nitride nanoparticles as plasmonic solar heat transducers", S. Ishii, R. P. Sugavaneshwar and T. Nagao, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 120 (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b09604

Contact Information: International Centre for Materials Nanoarchitectonics:WPI-MANA: National Institute for Materials Science: 1-1 Namiki, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0044 Japan: Phone: +81-29-860-4710: E-mail: mana-pr at

About MANA: The International Centre for Materials Nanoarchitectonics:MANA was one of the nine research centers sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology:MEXT for the World Premier International Research Centre Initiative:WPI. The aim of the WPI is to create top world-level research centres sufficiently attractive to outstanding researchers from around the world, and MANA was established under this premise to encourage proactive science and technology research with a team of excellent researchers. MANA has been called one of Japan's best research institutes not only for its research output, but also for its efforts to internationalise and establish effective programmes for training young researchers. MANA’s Vision: Toward a better global future: Pioneering a new paradigm in materials development
on the basis of 'nanoarchitectonics. MANA’s Mission: Develop groundbreaking new materials on the basis of 'nanoarchitectonics'; Create a 'melting pot' where top-level researchers gather from around the world; Foster young scientists who battle to achieve innovative research; Construct a worldwide network of nanotechnology research centres. ω.

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What Do You Find in Penryn: Rare Knowledge About Rare Things That are Vitally Important


|| November 18: 2016: University of Exeter News || ά. Pioneering new insights into why high concentrations of some of the most rare and desirable natural elements, that are vital for the production of essential environmental, digital and security technologies, have been discovered. Pivotal new collaborative research, led by the world-famous Camborne School of Mines, based at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus, Cornwall, provides a ground-breaking explanation of why remarkably high levels of these crucial earth elements are found at the Songwe Hill Rare Earth Project in Malawi, Southeast Africa.

The research team insisted that the new findings could pave the way for mining companies to significantly increase the likelihood of enhancing the global security of the supply of critical, yet rare, earth elements. The innovative findings are published in the respected journal Ore Geology Reviews.At present, many of the 15 naturally occurring rare earth elements are essential components in the vast majority of green and digital technology production and advances.

These include neodymium, a ‘light rare earth’ element vital for the production of permanent magnets in electric cars, wind turbines and smartphones; and ‘heavy rare earth’ elements such as dysprosium, europium and terbium which are used in lighting, anti-fraud and safety technologies. However, all 15 are considered as 'critical raw materials' by the European Union, due to risks of disruption to the supply by the dominant global producer, China.

The new research reveals that the Songwe Hill carbonatite - an igneous rock containing at least 50 per cent carbonate minerals – is composed not just of the relatively common rare earth mineral synchysite, but also the heavy rare earth-enriched variety of the mineral apatite. This apatite is the key to why Songwe has a higher content of heavy rare earths than most other similar types of carbonatite host rock.

Dr Sam Broom-Fendley, lead author of the study said: “The occurrence of heavy rare earth rich apatite is particularly uncommon in carbonatites. Our work indicates that you need to ‘simmer’ these rocks in hot fluids to cause heavy rare earth enrichment. This is particularly useful as combined extraction of both light rare earth minerals and the heavy rare earth rich apatite creates a well-balanced deposit potentially suitable to support the growing magnetics industry.”

The research team employed a variety of techniques including cathodoluminescence, laser ablation and electron microprobe analysis, to unravel the sequence of events that formed the rare mineral apatite. It was conducted in collaboration with the UK:Canadian exploration company Mkango Resources, who are working predominantly in Malawi.

William Dawes, CEO of Mkango Resources and co-author of the paper adds: “Mkango is very pleased to have collaborated on this pioneering research into heavy rare earth enrichment at Songwe. Our focus is on developing a new sustainable source of light and heavy rare earths outside China. Pushing the boundaries of research into rare earths through collaborations with leaders in the field is a core theme of the company’s strategy.”

Frances Wall, Professor of Applied Mineralogy at Camborne School of Mines said, ‘A better understanding how and where heavy rare earths can be concentrated helps exploration companies improve their deposit models and increases the chances of a new rare earth deposit coming into production.” The research was funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, including its Security of Supply of Minerals programme.

About the University of Exeter: The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university that combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 21,000 students and is in the top one per cent of universities worldwide. Exeter is also ranked 9th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 and 11th in the Guardian University Guide 2017. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the University ranked 16th nationally, with 98% of its research rated as being of international quality. Exeter was named The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2015-16, in recognition of excellence in performance, education and research. Exeter was The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012-13.

The University will launch its flagship Living Systems Institute in 2016, a world-class, interdisciplinary research community that will revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. This follows recent investments of more than £350 million worth of new facilities across its campuses in recent years; including landmark new student services centres, the Forum in Exeter and The Exchange on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, together with world-class new facilities for Biosciences, the Business School and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. ω.

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World’s Smallest Magnifying Glass That Makes It Possible to See Individual Chemical Bonds Between Atoms

Artist's impression: Image: NanoPhotonics Cambridge:Bart deNijs

|| November 15: 2016: University of Cambridge News || ά. Using the strange properties of tiny particles of gold, researchers have concentrated light down smaller than a single atom, letting them look at individual chemical bonds inside molecules, and opening up new ways to study light and matter. For centuries, scientists believed that light, like all waves, couldn’t be focused down smaller than its wavelength, just under a millionth of a metre. Now, researchers led by the University of Cambridge have created the world’s smallest magnifying glass, which focuses light a billion times more tightly, down to the scale of single atoms.

In collaboration with European colleagues, the team used highly conductive gold nanoparticles to make the world’s tiniest optical cavity, so small that only a single molecule can fit within it. The cavity, called a ‘pico-cavity’ by the researchers, consists of a bump in a gold nanostructure the size of a single atom, and confines light to less than a billionth of a metre. The results, reported in the journal Science, open up new ways to study the interaction of light and matter, including the possibility of making the molecules in the cavity undergo new sorts of chemical reactions, which could enable the development of entirely new types of sensors.

According to the researchers, building nanostructures with single atom control was extremely challenging. “We had to cool our samples to -260°C in order to freeze the scurrying gold atoms.” said Felix Benz, lead author of the study. The researchers shone laser light on the sample to build the pico-cavities, allowing them to watch single atom movement in real time.

“Our models suggested that individual atoms sticking out might act as tiny lightning rods, but focusing light instead of electricity.” said Professor Javier Aizpurua from the Centre for Materials Physics in San Sebastian in Spain, who led the theoretical section of this work. “Even single gold atoms behave just like tiny metallic ball bearings in our experiments, with conducting electrons roaming around, which is very different from their quantum life where electrons are bound to their nucleus.” said Professor Jeremy Baumberg of the NanoPhotonics Centre at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, who led the research.

The findings have the potential to open a whole new field of light-catalysed chemical reactions, allowing complex molecules to be built from smaller components. Additionally, there is the possibility of new opto-mechanical data storage devices, allowing information to be written and read by light and stored in the form of molecular vibrations.

The research is funded as part of a UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council:EPSRC investment in the Cambridge NanoPhotonics Centre, as well as the European Research Council:ERC and the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, and supported by the Spanish Council for Research:CSIC and the University of the Basque Country:UPV:EHU.

Reference: Felix Benz et al. ‘Single-molecule optomechanics in ‘pico-cavities’.’ Science 2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5243

:The text in this piece is by University of Cambridge and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License:  ω.

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Better and Stronger: Polymer Breakthrough to Improve Everyday Used Things

Image: University of Warwick

|| October 22: 2016: University of Warwick News || ά. Medicine, mobile phones, computers and clothes could all be enhanced using the process for making paint, according to research by the University of Warwick. A breakthrough in the understanding of polymers, the molecules from which almost everything we use is made, is set to make commercial products, from water bottles to electrical goods, stronger and more effective for their uses.

Professor David Haddleton from Warwick’s Department of Chemistry has discovered a way to translate the specific requirements of a product into its essential molecular structure. Enacting the same process from which we get emulsion paint and glue, complex polymers can be tailor-made, with producers able to write into the code, essentially, the DNA, of a molecule the exact properties needed for the final product, weight, strength, shape, size etc. This will give commercial producers greater control than ever before over the design of their products by using their existing infrastructure with a simple modification.

Controlled polymerisation has revolutionised academic polymer synthesis and traditionally uses one of two techniques: with sulphur or with copper. Both techniques have drawbacks, the former using toxic and noxious bad smelling thiols, and the latter using heavy metal and catalysts which add cost and complication to new materials.

Emulsion polymerisation is the process used to make emulsion paint and household glues, using water as solvent. The use of special macromonomers allows for a new process - sulfur-free RAFT emulsion polymerization – which eliminates these problems. It allows complex polymers with good monomer sequence control to be synthesised in an aqueous environment, without the use of chemicals containing sulphur.

Professor Haddleton comments that the breakthrough will have many commercial uses: “Sulphur-free RAFT allows the use of commercial processes to make sequence controlled polymers containing molecular information to be made using large and uncontaminated processes and I expect this to be of great interest to the polymer industry for use in nanomedicine to automotive applications.”

The University of Warwick is a global leader in polymer research. In 2016, Warwick hosted a polymer chemistry conference, the biggest of its kind ever to take place in the UK.

Professor Haddleton leads the Haddleton polymer research group at Warwick, and he is Editor-in-Chief of Polymer Chemistry, a new high impact Royal Society of Chemistry Journal.

The paper, ‘Sequence-controlled methacrylic multiblock copolymers via sulphur-free RAFT emulsion polymerization’, is published in Nature Chemistry:doi:10.1038/nchem.2634. ω.

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All That Glitters is Not Gold But That What Gold is Has Much Secrets Still to Reveal


|| October 08: 2016: Cardiff University News || ά. A team, led by experts at Cardiff University, has peered deep inside the structure of a gold catalyst to find the reason for the material’s remarkable activity. The team, from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, have discovered a cocktail of different sized gold particles within the catalyst that each contribute, to different degrees, to gold’s catalytic ability.

Publishing their findings in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers believe that this unique insight, a first of its kind, can be used to modify the production methods of gold catalysts in order to make them even more efficient at speeding up chemical reactions. Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said: “Ever since we first discovered gold’s remarkable catalytic ability, we’ve been examining its detail right down to the nanoscale, one-billionth of a metre, to find out what gives it these unparalleled characteristics.”

The team, which also included researchers from Lehigh University and Tokyo Metropolitan University, have now shown that within the catalyst there exists a wide distribution of gold species: nanoparticles larger than one nanometre in size; sub-nanometre clusters containing less than 20 atoms; and individual gold atoms.

“We’ve conclusively shown that it is not the particles or the individual atoms or the clusters which are solely responsible for the efficient catalysis, but in fact a combination of all three which each contribute to different degrees.” continued Professor Hutchings. The research showed that the sub-nanometre clusters were the most efficient way of using gold to catalyse reactions, whereas the larger particles were less efficient and the individual atoms even less

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers examined gold on iron oxide samples under an extremely powerful electron microscope, and correlated their observations with the catalytic performance of the samples themselves. The results showed that the catalytic performance depended on how the samples were originally prepared, which causes changes in the gold distributions.

This study was supported by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science which supported Dr Simon Freakley, from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, to travel to the lab of Professor Masatake Haruta, the discoverer of this catalyst system, to learn about the effect of preparing the catalysts by different methods.

Qian He, a research fellow at Cardiff University who led the electron microscope study, said: “In the end, there were subtle differences in the order and speed in which the ingredients were added while preparing the material. When examined under the electron microscope, it was clear that the two slightly different methods produced quite different distributions of particles, clusters and dispersed atoms on the support.”

Professor Hutchings and his team have pioneered research into gold catalysts in recent years, and made the landmark discovery that gold is a remarkable catalyst for the production of vinyl chloride, the main ingredient of PVC. They found that gold offers an alternative to the environmentally harmful and toxic mercury catalyst that was traditionally used in industry.

As a result of Professor Hutchings’ pioneering work, the gold catalyst has now been commercialised by leading chemicals company Johnson Matthey and is currently in production at a purpose built reactor in Shanghai, China. Current estimates suggest that 20 million tonnes of vinyl chloride could be manufactured each year using the gold catalyst. ω.

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Would Thor Thunder, Or Go Quiet: Elizabeth Wildman Wonders at Her Lab Results

Image: University of Manchester

|| October 05: 2016: University of Manchester News || ά.  A researcher at The University of Manchester has made a surprise finding after observing variations of a chemical bond with a radioactive metal called thorium, and this newly revealed relationship could one day contribute to improving nuclear fuel management. Elizabeth Wildman, a PhD student in the research group led by Professor Steve Liddle, has reported compounds where unusual forms of phosphorus, known as the Devil’s element, are stabilised by thorium, a radioactive chemical element named after the Norse god of thunder, which can be used as a nuclear fuel in the nuclear power industry.

“This has been an exciting experience and I am delighted my work has been recognised in this way,” said Elizabeth Wildman. “It seems the Norse god of thunder has tamed the Devil’s element.” This latest study from Professor Liddle’s research group looked at how ‘soft’ elements such as phosphorus can interact with thorium in unusual bonding environments. The research looked at species with single and double thorium-phosphorus bonds, and even managed to trap moieties as fundamental as PH and a naked P atom between two thorium ions.

“Nuclear power could provide energy security for the UK and produce far less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, but the waste it produces is potentially very dangerous if not handled properly” said Professor Steve Liddle, Co-Director of the Centre for Radiochemistry Research at The University of Manchester. “In order to find ways of reducing the volume of nuclear waste and recycle unspent fuel, research has focussed on developing our understanding of how radioactive actinide elements interact with elements from around the periodic table that they could come into contact with in the fuel cycle.”

The work was carried out as part of a collaborative research project between the universities of Manchester and Regensburg, and was funded and supported by the Royal Society, European Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and European Co-operation in Science and Technology.

The research has been published in the leading multi-disciplinary journal Nature Communications in an article entitled ‘Thorium Phosphorus Triamidoamine Complexes Containing Th-P Single and Multiple Bond Interactions’.

Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons, examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet.  ω.

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Graphene: Pressure? What Pressure?

Image: University of Manchester

|| August 27: 2016: University of Manchester News || ά. Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at The University of Manchester report. This is due to graphene’s incredible strength, 200 times stronger than steel.

The graphene balloons routinely form when placing graphene on flat substrates and are usually considered a nuisance and therefore ignored. The Manchester researchers, led by Professor Irina Grigorieva, took a closer look at the nano-bubbles and revealed their fascinating properties. These bubbles could be created intentionally to make tiny pressure machines capable of withstanding enormous pressures. This could be a significant step towards rapidly detecting how molecules react under extreme pressure.

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists found that the shape and dimensions of the nano-bubbles provide straightforward information about both graphene’s elastic strength and its interaction with the underlying substrate.

The researchers found such balloons can also be created with other two-dimensional crystals such as single layers of molybdenum disulfide:MoS2 or boron nitride. They were able to directly measure the pressure exerted by graphene on a material trapped inside the balloons, or vice versa.

To do this, the team indented bubbles made by graphene, monolayer MoS2 and monolayer boron nitride using a tip of an atomic force microscope and measured the force that was necessary to make a dent of a certain size.

These measurements revealed that graphene enclosing bubbles of a micron size creates pressures as high as 200 megapascals, or 2,000 atmospheres. Even higher pressures are expected for smaller bubbles. Ekaterina Khestanova, a PhD student who carried out the experiments, said: “Such pressures are enough to modify the properties of a material trapped inside the bubbles and, for example, can force crystallisation of a liquid well above its normal freezing temperature’.

Sir Andre Geim, a co-author of the paper, added: “Those balloons are ubiquitous. One can now start thinking about creating them intentionally to change enclosed materials or study the properties of atomically thin membranes under high strain and pressure.”

More information about graphene: ω.

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Unwrapping the Gifts of MLI

Multi-layer insulation blankets: Image: ESA:G. Porter

|| August 14: 2016 || ά. Blankets of Multi-layer Insulation:MLI are used to cover satellite surfaces to help insulate them from orbital temperature extremes. These are the reason that satellites often look as though they’ve been covered in shiny Christmas wrapping.

MLI blankets are made up of multiple layers of very thin, metal-coated plastic film, with low-conducting ‘spacer’ material placed in-between such as silk, nylon or glass-fibre netting. Alternatively, MLI is sometimes deliberately crinkled to minimise any contact between layers.

In the airlessness of space, objects can be hot and cold at the same time, especially if one side is in sunshine and another is in shade. In such conditions, thermal radiation is the main driver of temperature change, rather than convection or conduction, and reflective MLI serves to minimise it.

Thermal control specialists aim to maintain the temperature of the satellite within set limits, to keep electronic and mechanical parts working optimally and to prevent any temperature-triggered structural distortion.

Placing MLI blankets on a satellite body is a skilled art in itself, with complex shapes needing to be created to fit around edges or joints. ω.

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New Continuous Flow Chemistry Online Seminar: October 27 at 10:00 ET

Image: Mettler Toledo

|| August 02: 2016 || ά. METTLER TOLEDO has announced an upcoming online symposium entitled Flow Chemistry for Process Development, featuring speakers from Snapdragon and Nalas Engineering. This free online seminar will be held on October 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM ET. Using case studies from the pharmaceutical industry, this online seminar will focus on continuous flow chemistry. Topics include how to use continuous flow chemistry with Process Analytical Technology (PAT) to expedite process development. Both talks will be followed by a live question and answer session with the presenter.

Jerry Salan of Nalas Engineering will present "Accelerated Process Development Using an Advanced Flow Reactor". Eric Fang of Snapdragon will present "Development of Continuous Flow Chemistry Using PAT Analyses". Chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical companies are investing in continuous chemical process development to decrease costs and speed up the delivery of new molecules to the market. Continuous flow chemistry has facilitated the use of synthetic steps that are currently unattainable with batch processes because they have mixing limitations or are too exothermic.

Novel development of continuous flow reactors has provided robust solutions which can deliver a number of distinct advantages over a more traditional batch process. When coupled with process analytical technology:PAT, flow chemistry allows for rapid analysis, optimization, and scale-up of a chemical reaction. This online seminar features two industry experts with backgrounds in academia as well as the pharmaceutical and chemical industries addressing how flow chemistry integrated with in situ reaction analysis accelerates development of robust chemical processes.

This free online seminar is for chemists and chemical engineers in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries as well as academia. There is no fee to attend. However, registration is required. Register for the Flow Chemistry for Process Development Seminar now.

About METTLER TOLEDO: METTLER TOLEDO provides Process Analytical Technology (PAT), automated synthesis reactors, and in situ sampling. In situ FTIR spectroscopy and automated sampling provides continuous analysis of reactions. Inline particle analysis enables crystallization development with continuous particle size measurements. Automated reactors and reaction calorimetry provides process knowledge to eliminate scale-up and safety incidents. ω.

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Indium, Selenium, Tellurium and Gallium: Rare Metals from the Glass Sandwich

Bettina Koch Writing

 Indium that has been recovered from scrap PV materials: Image: Loser Chemie

|| June 17: 2016 || ά. Globally unique technology for PV scrap recycling saves raw materials. Until recently, discarded photovoltaic modules were - at best - shredded and used for the production of low quality glass. The rare metals they contained were lost for good. Thanks to an innovative and environmentally friendly technology developed in the Loser Holding group, the fragile glass layers of the thin film modules can be separated from each other successfully and used by the high quality raw materials industry.

Rare metals such as indium, selenium, tellurium and gallium which are otherwise expensive and have to be imported are recovered from the scrap. The panel glass can be used directly for the manufacturing of float glass, and the ferrous back-cover glass can be used in the manufacturing of windows, for example. At CWT Chemische Werke Tangermünde GmbH in Saxony-Anhalt, which is part of the Loser group, the first industrial system is to go into use processing PV scrap.

This is a unique technology, worldwide, for the recycling of photovoltaic modules. Robots send the thin film modules to a laser cabin where concentrated light is applied through the upper layer of glass and provides the energy needed to destroy the semiconductor layers. The sandwich can now be pulled apart with vacuum cups without the panels shattering.

Once the sandwich has been opened, the rare metals in the thin film module are accessible to fluids and can be removed on a hydro-metallurgical basis. "We're talking about a biodegradable compound which is also found in nature," explains the company's managing director Ulrich Loser. "And after the semiconductors have been separated by the solution, the active materials can be used again." The rare metals are then prepared for the manufacturing of photovoltaic modules or for use in the electrical technology and electronics industries.

The cleaned glass can be used as a valuable secondary raw material which reduces the requirement for sand, and thanks to a low melting point, saves a considerable amount of energy in the manufacturing of glass when compared to its manufacturing from scratch. The company's relative proximity to the plate glass-works near Magdeburg, the potential buyers of the cleaned glass, was the determining factor in its decision to buy the disused production plant for fertilizer and animal feed in Tangermünde.

"We want to breathe new life into the Tangermünde chemical works," highlights Loser. The first goal is to prepare for restarting the production of the phosphorous-based fertilizer, while the next step is the construction of the first industrial system for processing the photovoltaic modules. If everything goes to plan, by 2018, the plant could be processing around 10,000 tonnes of thin film modules per year.

Loser estimates that in excess of 10 million tonnes of PV modules have so far been installed in Europe, and large quantities of discarded PV modules are already finding their way into the waste-management economy. Some come from insolvent solar companies, while some are unwanted, having been replaced by newer, higher output modules.

Like all technology, their "useful life" is also limited, which means a huge supply of scrap PV equipment is a future certainty. This is what Loser wants to be ready for. Following the successful trials with all of the module versions tested so far, the Loser subsidiary Tesoma is to construct a demonstration system in Lichtenau. Potential customers can find out about the process at the special purpose machinery manufacturer located in neighbouring Saxony. The industrial systems for the works in Tangermünde are also to be constructed at Tesoma.

The Loser group is focusing on Asia and America as export markets for the automated, turnkey systems for the recycling of PV scrap. "We want to take the process to market maturity and sell it worldwide," says Loser. Tangermünde in the north of Saxony-Anhalt is to be the first centre for the processing of photovoltaic scrap. ω.


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Carbon Fibre Reinforced Silicone Which Has the Twin-Advantage of Flexibility and Thermo-Elastic Stability

Large Space Simulator entrance: This is the engineer’s entrance to ESA’s Large Space Simulator, Europe’s largest vacuum chamber. Entire satellites requiring testing in simulated space conditions are lowered down into the 15 m-high and 10 m-diameter chamber through a hatch on top. Once the top and side hatches are sealed, the high-performance pumps can create a vacuum a billion times lower than standard sea level atmosphere, held for weeks at a time during test runs. And it is more than just space vacuum that is simulated. The chamber’s black-hued interior walls are lined with tubes pumped full of –190°C liquid nitrogen to mimic the extreme cold of deep space. Released 23/03/2016 11:34 am: Copyright ESA–G. Porter

March 24, 2016:  A whole new kind of large space antenna has been tested in realistic space conditions. This 5 m-diameter reflector seen being lowered into ESA’s Large Space Simulator appears translucent because it is a few tenths of a mm thick – thinner than a piece of card.

“This marked the first full-scale environmental testing of our new LABUM – Large Apertures Based on Ultrastable Shell-Membrane – technology innovated and developed at the Institute of Lightweight Structures at the Technical University of Munich (TUM),” explains Leri Datashvili, running the project for TUM.

LABUM is an attempt to fill a hole in current European space capabilities. Large-scale antenna reflectors are increasingly required for telecommunications, science and Earth observation missions. Up until now, European industry has not been able to field reflectors larger than 4 m in diameter, while the US, Japan and Russia are operating much larger reflectors in orbit.

 “This reflector has been made from carbon fibre reinforced silicone, which has the twin advantages of flexibility and ‘thermo-elastic stability’ – meaning it is able to hold its shape across a broad range of temperatures.” explains Julian Santiago Prowald of ESA’s Structures Section.

LABUM’s material is able to maintain its shape without the kind of pretensioning required by the wire mesh alternative, accordingly enabling a much lighter backing structure. The design is also scalable and modular – this prototype could in principle be reproduced at much larger size, up to 18 m or more.

Part of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the LSS is Europe’s largest thermal vacuum chamber, reproducing space-quality vacuum within liquid nitrogen-chilled walls. An array of IMAX-class light bulbs simulates the unfiltered sunlight encountered in orbit.

The three-day test last month gathered precise data on how LABUM’s shape responds to changing temperatures. The simulation reproduced a worst-case scenario where bright sunlight heats up the reflector’s centre while its edges remained colder than –100 C.

 Photogrammetry cameras were used to trace millimetre-scale distortion across the reflector, while thermocouples and infrared cameras took the temperature all along its surface.

Team behind the test

“The development has been led by ESA’s Structures Section in close collaboration with the Antenna Section,” adds Julian.

 “The Test Centre team also contributed advanced temperature and shape measurement techniques inside the Large Space Simulator, making it possible to achieve the high-quality results.”

LABUM is an activity within ESA’s Basic Technology Research Programme – ESA’s basic ‘ideas factory’ for promising new technologies – with TUM as the prime contractor, HPS-GmbH as subcontractor, with the participation of Munich University of Applied Sciences, and Wacker Silicones, AAC.

The activity was conceived by ESA’s Directorate of Technical and Quality Management as part of a European roadmap of new technologies in the domain of very large space apertures.

“The strong support of the TRP programme was essential,” concludes Julian. “The programme oversaw the complex set-up of technology development efforts and the use of highly overbooked test facilities like ESTEC’s Large Space Simulator.”


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Unravelling Graphene: Novel Technique Used to Study Graphene's Response to Air

Local surface potential maps for synthetic air (left) and ambient air (right), with the same relative humidity of 40%. The scan size is 6×3 micrometres squared. Image: NPL

March 23, 2016: An international team of scientists led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has performed novel measurements of graphene's electrical response to synthetic air, exposing a distinct knowledge gap that needs to be bridged before the commercialisation of graphene-based gas sensors.

Early gas detection is crucial in many fields, including environmental protection, medical diagnosis and national defence. Graphene, the 'wonder-material' consisting of a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms, has attracted much attention for its potential gas sensing applications.

When the surface of graphene is bared to certain chemicals, those chemicals either donate or withdraw electrons from graphene, causing a change in the electrical resistivity. Graphene is incredibly sensitive to this process, in fact it is so sensitive that just a single molecule of nitrogen dioxide can cause a measureable change. A graphene-based gas sensor would use these electrical changes to detect the target chemical.

However, it is not that simple. Gas sensors need to be exposed to the environment in order to detect the target species, but graphene is sensitive to such a wide variety of chemicals that its electrical resistivity changes significantly in ambient air alone. This makes it difficult to differentiate between the changes that are caused by the target gas and those caused by the natural environment.

In a new study, a group of scientists from NPL, Chalmers University of Technology and the US Naval Research Laboratory have used a novel technique to examine the effects of ambient air on graphene in a controlled environment in order to characterise its response.

The researchers investigated the effects of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour and nitrogen dioxide (in concentrations typically present in ambient air) on epitaxial graphene inside a controlled environmental chamber. All measurements were taken at NPL by applying Kelvin probe force microscopy whilst simultaneously performing transport (resistance) measurements. This novel combination gave researchers the unique ability to connect the local and global electronic properties together, a task that has proven to be difficult in the past.

The study, published in 2D Materials, experimentally showed that the combination of gases used does not fully replicate the effects of ambient air; even at concentrations higher than those found in the typical atmosphere, there is a large difference in graphene's response. This result contradicts past literature, which has mainly attributed the changes in graphene's electronic properties to these gases. And it raises the question: "What mystery chemicals are causing this significant response?"

It is clear that, while graphene-based gas sensors have great potential, there is still a lot of research to be done. Further exploration is needed to find the missing link between the effects seen in controlled laboratories and the effects seen in ambient air. Researchers are also interested in studying methods to optimise the devices by narrowing the sensitivity to specific target species, such as chemical functionalisation.

Read the full paper here: Atmospheric doping effects in epitaxial graphene: correlation of local and global electrical studies

Find out more about NPL's work on Graphene


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CASA Espacio: Nuclear Fusion to Generate Green Energy: A Mammoth of a Project Striving Full Steam Ahead

 ITER's Tokamak with its plasma: Design of ITER's Tokamak with its plasma. The nuclear fusion experimental plant to generate electricity is now under construction in southern France. More on ITER at Released 14/03/2016 12:03 pm: Copyright ITER Organization


In a worldwide research collaboration among the nations of humanity formed of  China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US, the


March 16, 2016: Engineers building parts of a new type of power plant for generating green energy with nuclear fusion are using their expertise from building rockets like Europe’s Ariane 5 to create the super-strong structures to cope with conditions similar to those inside the Sun.

A technique for building launcher and satellite components has turned out to be the best way for constructing rings to support the powerful magnetic coils inside the machine.

Meaning “the way” in Latin, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, ITER, is the world’s largest nuclear fusion experiment on generating electricity and is now being built in France.

Spanish company CASA Espacio is making the rings using a method they have perfected over two decades of building elements for the Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz rockets, as well as for satellites and the International Space Station.

“Forces inside ITER present similar challenges to space,” explains Jose Guillamon, Head of Commercial and Strategy.

“We can’t use traditional materials like metal, which expand and contract with temperature and conduct electricity. We have to make a special composite material which is durable and lightweight, non-conductive and never changes shape.”

At their centre of excellence in Spain with its track record in composites for space applications, CASA Espacio has been at the forefront of developing a technique for embedding carbon fibres in resin to create a strong, lightweight material.

The composite is ideal for rocket parts because it retains its shape and offers the robust longevity needed to survive extreme launches and the harsh environment of space for over 15 years.

Now, the team is using a similar technique to build the largest composite structures ever attempted for a cryogenic environment. With a diameter of 5 m and a solid cross-section of 30x30 cm, ITER’s compression rings will hold the giant magnets in place.

Harnessing star energy

Pre-compression rings: Three pre-compression rings at the top and three at the bottom of the ITER’s toroidal field magnet system will help the structures towithstand the enormous forces during machine operation. More on ITER at . Released 14/03/2016 12:07 pm: Copyright ITER Organization

Nuclear fusion powers the Sun and stars, with hydrogen atoms colliding to form helium while releasing energy. It has long been a dream to harness this extreme process to generate an endless supply of sustainable electricity from seawater and Earth’s crust.

In a worldwide research collaboration between China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US, the first prototype of its kind is now being realised in ITER.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2019 for initial trials as early as 2020. A commercial successor for generating electricity is not predicted before 2050.

Designed to generate 500 MW while using only a tenth of that to run, ITER aims to demonstrate continuous controlled fusion and, for the first time in fusion research, produce more energy than it takes to operate.

Inherently safe with no atmospheric pollution or long-lived radioactive waste, one kilogram of fuel could produce the same amount of energy as 10 000 tonnes of fossil fuel.

At ITER’s core is a doughnut-shaped magnetic chamber, 23 m in diameter. It will work by heating the electrically charged gases to more than 150 000 000ºC.

Hotter than the Sun, the plasma would instantly evaporate any normal container. Instead, giant electromagnets will hold the plasma away from the walls by suspending it within a magnetic ‘cage’.

Building something that can withstand this powerful magnetic field is an extreme engineering challenge.

CASA Espacio had the answer thanks to their expertise and method for making space components.

Now under construction, ITER’s rings will each withstand 7000 tonnes – the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower pressing against each one of the six rings.

Carbon fibres are woven like fabric and embedded in a resin matrix to create a lightweight, durable and stable composite.

“In the same way that you’d weave a different fabric for a raincoat than you would for a summer shirt, we can lay the fibres in different directions and alter the ingredients to adapt the resulting material to its role, making it extra strong, for example, or resistant to extreme temperatures in space,” explains Jose.

For ITER, glass fibres are laid to maximise their mechanical strength and can be built up in slices and stacked like doughnuts to create the cylindrical structure.

“Space expertise can provide a tremendous resource to so many companies in non-space sectors, helping them to improve their product and increase their revenues,” says Richard Seddon from Tecnalia, worked with ESA´s Technology Transfer Network, which helps companies employ technologies from space to improve their businesses.

“In this case, CASA Espacio had just the right proven expertise to provide the best solution for ITER.”


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Fire High, Fire Low Up in Space: What is Your Mechanics, What are the Laws?

NASA Glenn engineer Tom Hudach wires electrical components on one of Saffire’s avionics panels. Image: NASA

Fire in the Hole: Studying How Flames Grow in Space

Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space. And while NASA has conducted studies aboard the space shuttle and International Space Station, risks to the crew have forced these experiments to be limited in size and scope.

Now a new experiment, designed, built and managed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, will ignite an understanding of microgravity fire on a much larger scale. The Spacecraft Fire Experiment, known as Saffire, is a series of experiments to be launched on three different flights beginning in March.

“A spacecraft fire is one of the greatest crew safety concerns for NASA and the international space exploration community,” says Gary Ruff, Saffire project manager.

Saffire will involve far larger flames than previous experiments and will investigate the way fire spreads on a variety of combustible materials. Because the experiments will be conducted away from the space station, there is no risk to the astronauts aboard.

Each Saffire experiment will be remotely operated inside a 3 x 5 foot module, split into two compartments. One side of the module is an avionics bay that contains sensors, high definition video cameras and signal processing equipment. The other side contains the hardware required to ignite a large flame and burn the fabrics and materials inside.

When the experiments begin, Saffire I and III will burn one large 16 by 37-inch piece of SIBAL cloth, which is a blend of fiberglass and cotton. This material has been studied in previous microgravity combustion experiments, although at a much smaller size. The SIBAL cloth will be burned from the bottom to see how the flame spreads. If the flame extinguishes itself, scientists will light it at the top and see what happens as the flame moves opposite to the airflow.

Saffire II, scheduled to launch in May from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, will ignite a mix of nine different samples of materials used routinely on the space station including flame retardant fabrics used for astronaut clothing, station Plexiglas window samples with edge variations and structures used for storage containers and silicone composites. Each sample is two by 11 inches, the size sample NASA uses to screen materials on Earth before they are used on a spacecraft.

“Saffire seeks to answer two questions,” says David Urban, principle investigator. “Will an upward spreading flame continue to grow or will microgravity limit the size? Secondly, what fabrics and materials will catch fire and how will they burn?”

The Saffire I payload will hitch a ride on a resupply mission to the space station in an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When Cygnus arrives, astronauts will unload their supplies, but Saffire will remain on board Cygnus.

“Within the first day after Cygnus pulls away from the space station, we will begin the experiment, which will run autonomously once the RUN command is sent,” says Steven Sinacore, deputy project manager. “It will only take a few hours to run the experiments, but Cygnus will remain in space for seven days to ensure complete data transmission back to the Saffire operations team on the ground.” Eventually, Saffire, along with Cygnus, will be destroyed upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Concepts for additional Saffire missions- IV, V, VI are in development to focus more on flame spread, smoke propagation, detection and suppression of fire.

As NASA continues to send astronauts to the space station and continues the path toward a human mission to Mars, improving understanding of the structure of spacecraft fires is critical. “Saffire is all about gaining a better understanding of how fire behaves in space so NASA can develop better materials, technologies and procedures to reduce crew risk and increase space flight safety,” says Ruff.

Nancy Smith Kilkenny, SGT Inc: NASA's Glenn Research Center
( Editor: Kelly Heidman:NASA)


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The High Tech Metal Products

Amaze. Copyright ESA-N. Vicente

3D printing builds a solid object from a series of layers, each one printed on top of the last. This ‘additive manufacturing’ technique produces very complex structures with minimal waste and maximum flexibility.

Never before have titanium structures been so flexible. Leaving traditional casting techniques aside, the AMAZE team printed its logo in titanium as an intricate net shaped to millimetre precision. The project is working with materials that can withstand temperatures up to 3500°C.

Pieces like the example in this photo were shown in the London Science Museum, UK, on 15 October, where international experts presented the world’s largest metal 3D-printing project, lead by ESA and the EU.

AMAZE – Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products – involves 28 industrial partners across Europe.


Posted on : November 25, 2015


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