Physical Sciences

Designing catalysts bit by bit

Catalysis, using reagents to speed up chemical reactions, is big business. From synthesising new chemicals to cleaning up the exhaust fumes from cars and sustainable energy devices such as hydrogen fuel cells, catalysts play a huge role in our daily lives. Prof Roy L. Johnston and Dr Francesca Baletto at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London respectively are using novel computational approaches […]

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Physical Sciences

Cleaner pathways to chemical synthesis via new generation catalysts

The synthesis and manufacture of chemicals, and chemical products, has typically relied on petroleum-based feedstocks. Even hydrogen, often hailed as a ‘clean fuel’ and an important component in many chemical reactions, is sourced from such feedstocks. However, Professor Mark Keane’s research at Heriot-Watt University is developing methods for clean chemical production from alternative, renewable feedstocks. To achieve this, he is designing and developing new […]

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Physical Sciences

Seeing the structures of molecules: insights from NMR and industry

Many of the essential chemical constituents of life, including carbohydrates, are made up of complex atomic arrangements. Knowing the particular structure of a compound is important not only for identification purposes, but also for understanding how biologically relevant compounds react. Through this knowledge, their biological functions can ultimately be deciphered. Professor Anthony Serianni at the University of Notre Dame has […]

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Physical Sciences

Configuring new bonds between first-row transition metals

Transition metals are some of the most important elements in the Periodic Table for their wealth of applications, spanning catalysis to biology. The rich chemistry of the transition metals arises from their remarkable ability to form multiple chemical bonds, a process that is still not fully understood and remains a major challenge in fundamental chemistry. Professor Connie Lu at the […]

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Physical Sciences

In search of supermassive black hole feedback

Professor Evan Scannapieco and his team at Arizona State University have been investigating the puzzle of why the largest galaxies in the universe, once the most active, have become dormant and ceased to produce stars. They were one of the first to propose a mechanism that involved colossal feedback from supermassive black holes at the centre of the galaxies and […]

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Physical Sciences

Offshore wind power’s big break

The World Energy Council states that the capacity of offshore wind generation installed globally was around 12,000 MW by the end of 2015 with over 92 percent of these installations located in European waters. This will require innovative solutions such as the work being done by Professor Mike Barnes and his team at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Manchester University, […]

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Physical Sciences

Lysenin channels as single-molecule sensors, controlled nano-valves, and memory elements

Professor Daniel Fologea, an associate professor at Boise State University, studies the way cells interact with their environment by selective transportation of ions and molecules through the cell membrane. His research group examines these interactions in order to understand how diseases occur, and how to use them for biosensing, early diagnosis, and to cure diseases like cancer. Any cell in your […]

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Physical Sciences

Pushing the boundaries – interrogating magnetism at material interfaces

In order to keep improving electronic devices, whether it be computers or sensors, researchers must understand what is going on, on an atomic level. Understanding the behaviour of ions within materials is difficult enough, but when you put two materials together it gets much more complicated. Dr Mikel Holcomb, Associate Professor from West Virginia University, has dedicated her work to finding […]

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Physical Sciences

Understanding how ‘grain boundaries’ cause the structural integrity of materials fail

After receiving a Young Investigator Program award from the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Dr Srikanth Patala and his research team at North Carolina State University have studied the impact of ‘grain boundaries’ on the structural integrity of many materials used in critical applications. This includes materials commonly found in jet engine turbine blades, nuclear power stations and internal […]

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Physical Sciences

Crystal clear: how topography affects crystal formation

Dr Hugo Christenson is a Reader in the Molecular and Nanoscale Physics Group at the University of Leeds. His present research interests lie in crystallisation – an important process across multiple areas of science. Specifically, Dr Christenson’s work provides in-depth insight into why crystals first form in topographical defects, like cracks and crevices. Have you ever sat on a park […]

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