New technology and partnerships to aid scientists facing critical global challenges

IMAGE: Professor Richard Palmer and Dr. Yubiao Niu from Swansea University with the new nanoparticle instrument at Diamond Light Source.
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Credit: Henry Hoddinott.

A new cutting edge instrument has actually been constructed by a group from Swansea University’s Nanomaterials Laboratory which will assist scientists battle versus environment modification, microbial infection and other significant global challenges.

The group developed and constructed the nanoparticle beam instrument with the aid of scientists from Freiburg University, Germany and have actually now installed it at the UK’s nationwide synchrotron science center, Diamond Light Source, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

In a preliminary four-year agreement, the instrument will be offered for usage by personnel and users of the Diamond synchrotron and a new Swansea University satellite lab group based at the Diamond center, seconded from the University’s Nanomaterials Laboratory in Engineering led by Professor Richard Palmer. The Laboratory is a world leader in creating advanced nanoparticle beam technology.

The new Swansea instrument situated at Diamond’s flexible soft X-ray (VerSoX) beamline B07 will make it possible for the exact generation of nanoscale particles of varied products by the technique of gas-phase condensation, their size-selection with a mass spectrometer and then deposition onto surface areas to make model gadgets. It will assist scientists check out and optimise the impact of particle size, structure and structure on homes pertinent to applications as differed as catalysis, batteries, and anti-bacterial finishings for medical implants. It has the prospective to aid extreme discovery and development in both energy and medical innovations. Initial focus will be on the generation of green hydrogen and green ammonia as tidy fuels. This can favorably contribute to taking on environment modification by utilizing sustainable however periodic energy sources – such as wind, tidal and solar – and saving the energy in these particles.

The nanoparticle source at Diamond will match the Matrix Assembly Cluster Source (MACS) and 2 more new instruments established by the group at Swansea University. The instrument at Diamond is an ultra-precision source of size-selected nanoparticles (likewise described clusters) developed for products discovery and optimisation, while the MACS is developed to scale-up discoveries made at this design scale to the level of production.

Professor Steve Wilks, Provost of Swansea University, stated: “The installation of this new nanoparticle instrument heralds the start of a strategic partnership between Swansea University and Diamond Light Source, and is underpinned by the Welsh Government. It opens up new opportunities for the Diamond staff and user community to work alongside our Swansea University satellite team based at Diamond, as conceived by Professor Palmer. In particular, nanoparticles have tremendous potential as new catalysts for sustainable energy generation, such as the splitting of water by sunlight to make clean hydrogen fuel, and for the synthesis of medicines and sensors.”

Professor Laurent Chapon, Diamond’s Physical Sciences Director, commented: “Diamond always wants to offer state -of-the-art instruments – often unique in the world – to the user community. One of the ways we push our technology is by partnering with key universities to help us drive forward the balance of scientific vision and needs from the community. Our collaboration with Swansea University provides a unique experimental (nanoparticle beam) set-up for materials discovery, that supports our surface, interface and catalysis community in addressing the pressing challenges of global health and climate. We all now look forward to the advancement in knowledge this new capability will bring.”

The Welsh Government Office for Science Sêr Cymru Programme is supporting the secondment of Dr Yubiao Niu from the Swansea group to Diamond by means of a Sêr Cymru Industrial Fellowship. He will commission the new instrument and check out using nanoparticle drivers for low energy synthesis of ammonia and storage of hydrogen, with Imperial College likewise working together.

Professor Peter Halligan, WG’s Chief Science Advisor, stated: “Generating a hydrogen-based fuel such as ammonia promises to overcome several of the technical challenges faced by hydrogen but has its own challenges. The metallic cluster catalyst method is innovative technology and one which deserves to be explored and exploited to its full potential. Dr Yubiao Niu, Swansea University, Diamond Light Source and Imperial College should be applauded for their foresight and ambition in this exciting area of research.”


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