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News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Smart City World Labs, a Danish consortium, are collaborating to develop technologies to improve the sustainability and liveability of cities. This includes the test-bedding of various technologies ranging from water and energy saving innovations, to green building systems and electric vehicles for tropical megacities such as Singapore. The tests will be conducted on NTU's 200-hectare campus, which is already a living lab for many environment-friendly research projects such as the 5-megawatts peak rooftop solar farms installed on buildings around campus. Leading NTU's efforts will be the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N), who together with the Danish consortium experts, will explore five broad areas of research - green building technologies, electromobility, environmental sustainability, liveability, and sustainable energy solutions. Smart City World Labs, funded by the Danish Industry Foundation, will also support internationalisation efforts of Singapore and Danish small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and start-ups and help them go global by tapping on an international network of living labs. NTU Chief of Staff and Vice President (Research), Professor Lam Khin Yong said, "We are living in a world that needs sustainable development so as to address the challenges brought about by rapid urbanization. NTU's partnership with Smart City World Labs will develop innovations to improve the liveability of cities such as Singapore as we embrace green technologies for a more sustainable future." Based in Denmark, the Smart City World Labs Consortium comprises of the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the City of Copenhagen, Gate 21 and Quercus Group, a consultancy firm that specialises in sustainable development. Her Excellency, Mrs Dorte Bech Vizard, Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore, said, "Denmark and Singapore - both small countries - are important drivers of the green transition through smart tenders and new ways of doing public-private collaboration. Connecting Danish and Singaporean living labs will make it easier for especially our small and medium-sized companies to test and adapt their innovative products in a real life scenario and to show-case the benefits to a broad range of stakeholders in our markets. I expect this will accelerate the uptake of new green solutions and create export successes in both countries." NTU and the consortium will form a gateway that allows local SMEs to tap into a global network of living labs where they can test their ideas, products and innovations overseas. This will allow them to customise their products and services to meet the needs of a specific market. Apart from providing Singapore companies with a launch pad to expand their businesses overseas, the new partnership will also facilitate access into Asian markets and government agencies for Danish companies. This removes some key barriers to internationalisation, as companies can easily tailor their technologies and business models for other markets. Dr Sanjay Chittarajan Kuttan, Senior Scientist at NTU's Energy Research Institute, said, "Start-ups and SMEs are often the source of the most innovative solutions for solving urgent issues facing cities around the world, but lack of "proof of performance" in real world deployment and market access limits their option to scale and extract more value from innovation. By creating a platform for international living lab collaboration, this partnership helps to break down such barriers for companies to go beyond their home markets." A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last three years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district. The Smart City World Labs Consortium has been established with the purpose of creating an international platform for strategic living lab collaboration, by building a platform connecting cities and living labs globally - starting with Singapore and Denmark as frontrunners. Funded by The Danish Industry Foundation, the project is facilitated by Gate 21 (lead), the Technical University of Denmark, the City of Copenhagen, Quercus Group, and the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore. The project will run over 2 years as a pilot project and then be scaled to other cities, mainly in Asia. More than 40 Danish companies, organisations, universities and municipalities have already declared their interest in taking part in the project. Alongside NTU, a number of Singaporean partners are also exploring opportunities for collaboration with the consortium.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed an ultrafast high-contrast camera that could help self-driving cars and drones see better in extreme road conditions and in bad weather. Unlike typical optical cameras, which can be blinded by bright light and unable to make out details in the dark, NTU's new smart camera can record the slightest movements and objects in real time. The new camera records the changes in light intensity between scenes at nanosecond intervals, much faster than conventional video, and it stores the images in a data format that is many times smaller as well. With a unique in-built circuit, the camera can do an instant analysis of the captured scenes, highlighting important objects and details. Developed by Assistant Professor Chen Shoushun from NTU's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the new camera named Celex® is now in its final prototype phase. "Our new camera can be a great safety tool for autonomous vehicles, since it can see very far ahead like optical cameras but without the time lag needed to analyse and process the video feed," explained Asst Prof Chen. "With its continuous tracking feature and instant analysis of a scene, it complements existing optical and laser cameras and can help self-driving vehicles and drones avoid unexpected collisions that usually happens within seconds." Asst Prof Chen unveiled the prototype of Celex® last month at the 2017 IS&T International Symposium on Electronic Imaging (EI 2017) held in the United States. It received positive feedback from the conference attendees, many of whom are academia and top industry players. A typical camera sensor has several millions pixels, which are sensor sites that record light information and are used to form a resulting picture. High-speed video cameras that record up to 120 frames or photos per second generate gigabytes of video data, which are then processed by a computer in order for self-driving vehicles to "see" and analyse their environment. The more complex the environment, the slower the processing of the video data, leading to lag times between "seeing" the environment and the corresponding actions that the self-driving vehicle has to take. To enable an instant processing of visual data, NTU's patent-pending camera records the changes between light intensity of individual pixels at its sensor, which reduces the data output. This avoids the needs to capture the whole scene like a photograph, thus increasing the camera's processing speed. The camera sensor also has a built-in processor that can analyse the flow of data instantly to differentiate between the foreground objects and the background, also known as optical flow computation. This innovation allows self-driving vehicles more time to react to any oncoming vehicles or obstacles. The research into the sensor technology started in 2009 and it has received $500,000 in funding from the Ministry of Education Tier 1 research grant and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Proof-of-Concept grant. The technology was also published in two academic journals published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world's largest technical professional organisation for the advancement of technology. With keen interest from the industry, Asst Prof Chen and his researchers have spun off a start-up company named Hillhouse Tech to commercialise the new camera technology. The start-up is incubated by NTUitive, NTU's innovation and enterprise company. Asst Prof Chen expects that the new camera will be commercially ready by the end of this year, as they are already in talks with global electronic manufacturers. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes -- the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last three years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

MCLEAN, VA and SINGAPORE--(Marketwired - February 09, 2017) - Smart technologies, such as sensors to improve workplace safety and artificial intelligence to aid courtrooms, could emerge from a new research partnership between Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and The MITRE Corporation from the United States. MITRE is a not-for-profit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers in the U.S., providing the US government with engineering, technical and scientific expertise in areas of defence, aviation, homeland security, U.S. courts, healthcare and cybersecurity. NTU and MITRE signed two research agreements today at MITRE's McLean campus in Virginia, U.S., signed by NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey and MITRE's Senior Vice President Lillian Zarrelli Ryals. The joint research partnership aims to develop innovative technologies to support Singapore's Smart Nation ambitions and improve safety in workplaces, and in Judicial Engineering, which aims to improve productivity and processes for the Singapore courts. Prof Boey said the tie-up brings Singapore a step closer to achieving its Smart Nation vision as the country develops new technologies to tackle critical challenges such as labour shortfall and a rapidly aging workforce. "This new partnership brings together MITRE's strengths in smart technologies and judiciary engineering with NTU's expertise in systems engineering as well as our track record in sustainable and intelligent technologies," said Prof Boey. "Partnering with the best global players like MITRE for interdisciplinary research is important as NTU continues to develop innovative solutions relevant for Singapore and Asia." MITRE's Senior Vice President Ms Ryals said, "MITRE looks forward to strengthening its relationship with NTU by entering into new research partnerships focused on judicial systems and personnel/workplace safety. NTU's extremely strong technical expertise, combined with MITRE's systems engineering acumen, will aid both organizations in tackling the most difficult global problems in these domains." The partnership between NTU and MITRE will look into area of Judicial Engineering, where NTU researchers will work with Singapore's courts to study how technology can help to improve court operations and to increase the productivity of the courts. New technologies to be explored include artificial intelligence and machine learning, court analytics and decision support systems as well as cybersecurity. The second thrust of the tie-up will be a focus on secure smart technologies such as sensors, diverse data sources, analytic technologies, and decision support tools. These smart technologies aim to improve workplace and personnel safety through providing critical safety information gathered through sensors, analytics and other data sources. For example, smart sensors could gather data on the number of employees in an office building and large installations like the airport and seaport, so as to generate the ideal work environment in terms of oxygen levels, brightness of lighting and ambient temperature based on demand in an area. In the event of an incident such as a fire, the information picked up by the smart sensors could also help fire safety officers ensure the safe evacuation of everyone. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last three years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district. The MITRE Corporation is a private, not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers for the US government. We provide technical expertise in defense, systems engineering, aviation, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, enterprise modernization, and healthcare. With 70 locations around the world, MITRE collaborates with partner nations, the international community, academia, and research institutions to strengthen national and global security. In 2015, MITRE opened MITRE Asia Pacific Singapore (MAPS), its first international research and development center in Singapore. Learn more at www.mitre-ap.sg


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and leading cyber security company FireEye are inking a partnership to explore new areas in cyber security research, and to develop courses to meet the rising demand for cyber security professionals needed to help defend critical networks. Besides carrying out joint research projects and developing new curriculum in cybersecurity, the partnership will offer scholarships, and provide internship opportunities to NTU students. The collaboration was signed today at one of the world's largest gathering of information security professionals, the RSA Conference in California, the United States, by NTU's Dean of the College of Science, Professor Ling San, and Kevin Mandia, Chief Executive Officer at FireEye. NTU Provost, Professor Freddy Boey said, "Today, the world is more connected than ever before, from internet banking to critical infrastructure, and this creates new vulnerabilities. NTU's new partnership with FireEye will not only find better ways to address the rising cyber threats, but also groom the next generation of future-ready cybersecurity professionals." The collaboration will focus on efforts to automatically classify malicious software (malware) and to study new methods that attackers use to infiltrate computer systems. This includes developing solutions to identify hidden malware behaviour that could evade regular detection methods. Eric Hoh, President of Asia Pacific Japan at FireEye said, "In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, it is clear that cyber security is the next domain in which national sovereignty will be challenged. This is cause for concern in the Asia Pacific region, where attackers spend a median of 520 days inside organizations before they are discovered. To improve, organizations must apply a combination of technology, threat intelligence, and -- most crucially -- expertise. Southeast Asia faces a shortage of cyber security expertise, and this collaboration will help bolster the ranks of those that defend Singapore networks." Mr David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore said, "This NTU-FireEye partnership brings together the strengths of both academia and industry to offer cutting-edge cybersecurity research as well as robust training to develop cybersecurity talent. It is a welcomed move to ensure we have a pool of skilled manpower with deep cybersecurity capabilities for Singapore." A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last three years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district. FireEye is the intelligence-led security company. Working as a seamless, scalable extension of customer security operations, FireEye offers a single platform that blends innovative security technologies, nation-state grade threat intelligence, and world-renowned Mandiant® consulting. With this approach, FireEye eliminates the complexity and burden of cyber security for organizations struggling to prepare for, prevent, and respond to cyber attacks. FireEye has over 5,600 customers across 67 countries, including more than 40% of the Forbes Global 2000. FireEye and Mandiant are registered trademarks or trademarks of FireEye, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other brands, products, or service names are or may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements related to expectations, beliefs, benefits, plans and objectives with respect to the partnership between Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and FireEye. Readers should not place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, which are based upon beliefs and information as of the date of this release. These forward-looking statements are subject to change as a result of new information, future events or other circumstances and are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. In addition, these forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and NTU and FireEye specifically disclaim any obligation or intention to update the forward-looking statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date of this release.


News Article | December 28, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

With Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones gaining popularity globally for commercial, recreational and industry purposes, hundreds of UAVs may soon be buzzing all over Singapore. The lower cost of drones and rising demand for commercial drone services have already led to a boom in the number of drones taking to the skies in Singapore. With Singapore's limited airspace and dense population, the need for an aerial traffic management system to allow drones to fly safely has become more urgent. Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are studying ways to allow hundreds of UAVs to fly efficiently and safely at any one time. The aim is to develop a traffic management system for UAVs consisting designated air-lanes and blocks, similar to how cars on the roads have traffic lights and lanes. Advanced technologies that will be developed include smart and safe routing, detect- and-avoid systems, and traffic management to coordinate air traffic. Named Traffic Management of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, this initiative is spearheaded by NTU's Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI). ATMRI is a joint research centre by NTU and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). It aims to research and develop air traffic management solutions for Singapore and the Asia Pacific region, including UAV traffic management which is one of its key programmes. Leading the research programme are NTU Professor Low Kin Huat, an expert in robotics and UAVs from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and ATMRI Senior Research Fellow, Mr Mohamed Faisal Bin Mohamed Salleh. Prof Low said it is important to develop a traffic management solution for UAVs tailored to actual challenges faced by Singapore given the huge growth of UAV traffic expected over the next decade. "At NTU, we have already demonstrated viable technologies such as UAV convoys, formation flying and logistics, which will soon become mainstream," explained Prof Low. "This new traffic management project will test some of the new concepts developed with the aim of achieving safe and efficient drone traffic in our urban airways." "The implications of the project will have far reaching consequences, as we are developing ways for seamless travel of unmanned aircrafts for different purposes without compromising safety, which is of paramount importance." Professor Louis Phee, Chair of NTU's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the UAV research at NTU is a natural progression, with the school's deep expertise in autonomous vehicles and robotics developed over the last decade. "This research will pave the way for appropriate rules and regulations to be implemented amidst the rapid growth of UAVs. The findings can help improve safety and address security concerns, which are especially important given today's climate of uncertainty." To ensure that traffic is regulated across the whole of Singapore, a possible solution is the establishment of coordinating stations for UAV traffic. These stations can then track all the UAVs that are in the air, schedule the traffic flow, monitor their speeds and ensure a safe separation between the UAVs. Mr Faisal, the co-investigator of the programme, said various scenarios will be tested out using computer simulations and software to optimise UAV traffic routes, so as to minimise traffic congestions. "We will also look into proposing safety standards, for instance how high UAVs should fly and how far they should be flying above buildings, taking privacy concerns and laws into consideration, and to suggest recommended actions during contingencies," said Mr Faisal, who is also Deputy Director at ATMRI. One proposed strategy is to use the current infrastructure such as open fields for take-off and landing and having UAVs fly above buildings and HDB flats, which can act as emergency landing sites to minimise risk to the public. Currently, restricted airspace and zones where UAV operations are prohibited have already been identified, such as near airports and military facilities. The researchers will test out several concepts, such as geofencing. The idea is to set up virtual fences where UAVs can be automatically routed around a restricted geographical location such as the airport. Another important research area will be collision detection. UAVs will need to have sensors that enable detection and avoidance of collision with another UAV. This will allow UAVs to follow a set of actions to avoid any mid-air incidents, such as flying above, below, or around other UAVs. This multidisciplinary research initiative will bring together faculty and researchers from different fields in NTU, from aerospace engineering and air traffic management to robotics and electronic engineering. Spanning a period of four years, the project which will also tap on industry experts, is expected to complete its initial phase of conceptual design and software simulation by end 2017. This is followed by actual test bedding of solutions using UAVs developed by NTU that can be used for relevant applications in 2018. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last three years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.


News Article | December 9, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) today launched a new marine research laboratory to develop innovative eco-friendly technologies for Singapore's maritime and offshore industry Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) today launched a new marine research laboratory to develop innovative eco-friendly technologies for Singapore's maritime and offshore industry. The Sembcorp Marine Lab at NTU, named in appreciation of a $10 million endowment fund set up by Sembcorp Marine, aims to develop ground-breaking solutions in fuel emission management, energy efficiency, and green shipping. It is equipped with the Southeast Asia's first dual-fuel marine engine, which is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). NTU researchers will study ways to retrofit ships to operate using two fuel types simultaneously - one of it being clean fuel - in a bid to reduce harmful emissions while keeping costs low. Such solutions are also aimed at delivering competitive advantages, and help shipping companies better prepare for the stringent emission regulations that will come into effect in 2020. NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey, said, "A global university with recognised strengths in sustainability research, NTU can play an important role in developing innovative eco-friendly technologies for Singapore's marine and offshore industry. "Our partnership with SembCorp Marine and the Singapore Economic Development Board combines our strengths and creates fresh synergies, allowing the lab to carry out cutting-edge research in fuel emission management, energy efficiency, and green shipping." Mr Tan Kong Hwee, Director for Transport Engineering at the EDB said, "NTU's focus on developing greener marine technologies is testament to the increasing interest in sustainable solutions for the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) sector. The lab will also demonstrate Singapore's capabilities in industry-relevant M&OE research." The lab was officially opened this morning by Mr Wong Weng Sun, President & Chief Executive Officer, Sembcorp Marine. "With the opening of the Sembcorp Marine Lab @ NTU, the offshore and marine sector now has a new research venue for investigating eco-friendly energy solutions, including clean and renewable fuels for marine engines, and emission control technologies," Mr Wong said. "I am excited about the lab's potential and look forward to a close collaboration between Sembcorp Marine and NTU to drive the R&D activities forward." Overhauling ships to operate entirely on alternative or clean fuels is a costly endeavour as it requires a complete overhaul of the engine systems. To keep costs low, the Sembcorp Marine Lab at NTU will find ways to retrofit and modify ship systems to operate using both diesel and a clean fuel such as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Researchers will also study the emission levels of various clean fuels and the viability of using biofuels such as biodiesel in ship engines. These solutions will provide simpler and cheaper options for ship companies to go green and ensure that ships' emission levels comply with international standards. Professor Lua Aik Chong, Acting Executive Director of Maritime Institute @ NTU and professor-in-charge of the new lab, said, "This lab comes at an important time amid rising energy demands and environmental concerns about carbon emissions and global warming. With international bodies already taking action, the lab will help the industry prepare for the changes, by providing viable and cost effective solutions." The new lab will also serve as a testbed, and work with various industry partners and government agencies such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on maritime-related research projects. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.


News Article | November 3, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Two scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are the first from Singapore awarded the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW). Established in 2002, the biennial award from Saudi Arabia recognises top innovative scientific research around the world that alleviates the global problem of water scarcity. Professor Wang Rong and Professor Anthony Fane from NTU Singapore are recipients of the Alternative Water Resources Prize, one of the five prizes under PSIPW. The award recognises the work done by the NTU team led by Prof Wang who developed a novel thin film composite hollow fibre membrane with superior performance. It can reduce membrane fouling and scaling, thus less energy is needed in the water reclamation and recycling process. This breakthrough combines forward osmosis, an emerging membrane process for water treatment, with existing technologies such as reverse osmosis, a process commonly used in seawater desalination, to create novel hybrid membrane systems for a wide range of applications. An improved version of the membrane was recently identified by PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency, as one of the research projects with commercial potential. The public agency is encouraging industry partners to collaborate with the NTU team to commercialise the membranes, with support from research funds administered by PUB. The new membrane technology is also in trials with industry partners for the treatment of processed water in the oil and gas industry as well as for application in the food and beverage industry. At the awards ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 2 Nov (Singapore's time 3 Nov), Professor Wang received the prize from PSIPW Chairman H.R.H. Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who presided over the event. Professor Wang, the Chair of NTU's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said, "The spirit behind the Alternative Water Resources Prize is on innovation and the nurturing of young talent. No one technology can always remain relevant in the light of ever-changing demographics, economics and climate. It is only through developing the competencies of young researchers and investing in the next generation of water scientists and engineers that we can continuously create innovative technologies for our future water security." Professor Wang is also Director of the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC), a research centre under NTU's Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI). Professor Fane, Founding Director of SMTC and now a Visiting Professor at NTU said, "I am very honoured to share the prestigious PSIPW Alternative Water Resources prize with my colleague Professor Wang Rong. We have both worked very hard, with our team, to build up the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre at NTU's NEWRI to be a global leader in membranes and sustainable water. This prize is a great recognition of these efforts." The Alternative Water Resources Prize awards a cash prize of US$133,000 (S$185,000) and covers research relating to areas such as wastewater treatment, water purification and cloud seeding. This year the prize received 32 nominations from more than 20 countries. Professor Wang has over 20 patents for novel membrane fabrication. She is the Editor of the Journal of Membrane Science, a top journal on membranes. She is also the founding President of the Membrane Society in Singapore. Professor Fane was the founding director of the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre. He took on subsequent roles as SMTC's Co-Director and Director-Mentor. He is also a former member of the World Health Organisation's Desalination Guidelines steering committee. Both Professor Wang and Professor Fane have been named by research and advisory firm Lux Research to be among the top 25 leading water researchers globally. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.


News Article | December 6, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a new ultrasound device that produces sharper images through 3-D printed lenses Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a new ultrasound device that produces sharper images through 3D printed lenses. With clearer images, doctors and surgeons can have greater control and precision when performing non-invasive diagnostic procedures and medical surgeries. The new device will allow for more accurate medical procedures that involve the use of ultrasound to kill tumours, loosen blood clots and deliver drugs into targeted cells. This innovative ultrasound device is equipped with superior resin lenses that have been 3D printed. In current ultrasound machines, the lens which focuses the ultrasound waves are limited to cylindrical or spherical shapes, restricting the clarity of the imaging. With 3D printing, complex lens shapes can be made which results in sharper images. The 3D printed lenses allow ultrasound waves to be focussed at multiple sites or shape the focus specially to a target, which current ultrasound machines are unable to do. The novel ultrasound device was developed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists, led by Associate Professor Claus-Dieter Ohl from NTU's School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. The ultrasound device had undergone rigorous testing and the findings have been published in Applied Physics Letters, a peer-reviewed journal by a leading global scientific institute - the American Institute of Physics. With this breakthrough, the NTU team is now in talks with various industry and healthcare partners who are looking at developing prototypes for medical and research applications. Associate Professor Claus-Dieter Ohl said, "In most medical surgeries, precision and non-invasive diagnosis methods are crucial. This novel device not only determines the focus of the wave but also its shape, granting greater accuracy and control to medical practitioners." Ultrasound waves are produced by firing sound waves at a glass surface or 'lens' to create high-frequency vibrations. In conventional ultrasound machines, the resulting heat causes the lens to expand rapidly, generating high frequency vibrations that produce ultrasound waves. With lenses that are 3D printed, the new ultrasound device overcomes the limitations of glass. Customised and complex 3D printed lenses can be made for different targets which not only results in better imaging, but are cheaper and easier to produce. "3D printing reinvents the manufacturing process, enabling the creation of unique and complex devices. In turn, the way medical devices are created needs to be rethought. This is an exciting discovery for the scientific community as it opens new doors for research and medical surgery," said Assoc Prof Ohl. This breakthrough taps into an ultrasound market which is expected to grow to about US$ 6.9 billion by 2020. It is also expected to promote new medical techniques and research opportunities in health sciences such as surgery, and biotechnology. For example, researchers could use the sound waves to measure elastic properties of cells in a petri dish, seeing how they respond to forces. This will be useful for example, to distinguish between harmful and benign tumour cells. "This is a very promising breakthrough, potentially offering significant clinical benefits including to the field of cancer imaging. This technology has the potential to reduce image distortions and more accurately differentiate cancerous from non-cancerous soft tissue," said Adjunct Assistant Professor Tan Cher Heng, LKCMedicine Lead for Anatomy & Radiology and Senior Consultant with the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.sciencemag.org

Between the jungle and the rice paddies, Fidel Costa struggled to find bare rock on the slopes of Mount Gede, a towering volcano near the western tip of the Indonesian island of Java. But an abandoned quarry hewn into the mountainside offered a rare chance to nab a few samples. So on a muggy day in 2011, Costa, a volcanologist at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, scrambled up the steep wall to some rocks, marbled like rye bread, which he pried loose with a hammer. Four thousand years ago, they erupted from Gede and fell out of a cloud of hot ash. There are no accounts of that eruption, let alone records of any seismic tremors or burps of gas leading up to it—the clues scientists now use to infer what's brewing deep beneath a volcano. Indeed, the volcano's last outburst occurred in 1957, long before modern monitoring efforts began, so scientists know little about its temperament. What signs portend Gede's eruptions, and how much warning do they give? For the millions of people living on its flanks, as well as in the nearby cities of Jakarta and Bandung, the answers are critical. There's no indication that Gede will erupt anytime soon. But when it does, Costa says, "anything that happens there is going to be a big mess." From the rocks released by that 4000-year-old eruption, however, Costa and his colleagues at the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation of Indonesia in Bandung were able to glean some crucial clues about Gede's behavior. The clues were locked in crystals, most smaller than lentils, embedded in the rocks. Each crystal grew in a soup of magma deep underground, accreting layers that bore witness to the events that preceded the eruption, and—most importantly—how fast they unfolded. These crystal clocks told Costa's team that Gede's 4000-year-old eruption came roughly 4 weeks after the injection of a fresh batch of magma beneath the volcano. Crystals from four more ancient eruptions gave similar answers. The pattern gives planners an idea of what to expect in the future: When sensors detect signs of magma stirring below the slumbering giant, an eruption may follow within weeks. "It might be uncertain, but it's much better than not knowing anything," Costa says. Costa has spent years learning to coax such stories out of tiny volcanic crystals with a technique he helped develop, known as diffusion chronometry. And it's catching on. "It's one of those techniques that is about to explode in popularity," says Tom Sisson, a volcanologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. Already, the few researchers adept at using the technique have found that magma can tear through the crust at searing velocities, and that volcanoes can gurgle to life in a geologic instant. Instead of taking centuries or millennia, these processes can unfold in a matter of decades or years, sometimes even months, says Kari Cooper, a volcano geochemist at the University of California, Davis. The results help explain why geophysicists haven't found simmering magma chambers under volcanoes like Yellowstone, and why some eruptions are more violent than others. "This is something that has the potential to really be a game changer in a lot of ways," she says. Back in his lab in Singapore, Costa gleans his volcano histories from cellophane-thin slices of rock. Backlit under a microscope, minerals in the slices—including plagioclase, olivine, and pyroxene—burst into focus: polygonal islands swimming in a dark sea of rock. Many have concentric bands like tree rings, which formed as the crystals grew in an ever-changing bath of liquid magma. The chemistry of each new band records the evolving composition of the magma, or changes in its temperature or pressure. Costa uses an instrument called an electron microprobe to map the chemical variations along the crystal faces, making a measurement every few microns. In the Gede crystals, the microprobe revealed higher concentrations of magnesium and iron in the outermost layers, which suggested that a fresh burst of magma rich in these elements bubbled up beneath Gede shortly before the eruption—potentially triggering it. But how shortly? That's where Costa and Daniel Krimler, a graduate student at the observatory, turned to diffusion chronometry, which converts the chemical smudging between the rim and the crystal's core into an estimate of time. Researchers first developed the technique, originally dubbed geospeedometry, in the 1960s. They used it to estimate cooling rates in meteorites and rocks that have been subjected to extreme heat and pressure. The method relies on the premise that nature rarely abides sharp gradients. Just as a few drops of food coloring will diffuse throughout a glass of water—no stirring required—so, too, will diffusion shuffle atoms from areas of high concentration to low concentration within a solid crystal lattice. In the Gede crystals, diffusion moved atoms of magnesium and iron from the crystal rims to the cores, and shuttled other elements in the opposite direction to fill the vacancies left by these atoms. It transformed an abrupt, steplike change in chemical composition into a more gradual curve. By knowing how fast magnesium and iron diffuse through specific minerals, Costa and Krimler could calculate how long diffusion went on after the magma injection and before the volcano erupted, freezing the chemical profile in place. They had a stopwatch. It's not quite that simple, of course. Diffusion rates depend not only on the element and mineral in question, but on the temperature, pressure, and oxidation state the crystal experienced, which researchers estimate from other clues in the crystals. In the 1980s, pioneers like Sumit Chakraborty, a geologist at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, began the tedious work of pinning down these diffusion parameters across a range of conditions. That meant long hours in the lab torturing natural and synthetic crystals with heat and pressure and then watching diffusion proceed. At first, single experiments could take weeks, but the results gave diffusion chronometry teeth. Curiously though, the technique didn't catch on with volcanologists until the turn of the century. By the time Costa published his first paper on the topic in 2003, applying diffusion techniques to volcanic crystals from the San Pedro volcano in Chile, several other researchers were having similar epiphanies. It was an idea whose time had come. One appeal of diffusion chronometry lies in its ability to track a wide range of volcanic processes. Any time a new zone forms within a crystal, diffusion chronometry can theoretically exploit it. And that allows scientists to target many stages leading up to an eruption, including when magma rises from the mantle, when it collects in crustal reservoirs and mixes with other magmas, and when it barrels up through the plumbing of the volcano toward the surface. Take the initial ascent of magma from the mantle. Terry Plank, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and a former postdoctoral researcher in her lab, Philipp Ruprecht, wanted to understand the origin of magma in a famous eruption of the Irazù volcano in Costa Rica that lasted from 1963 to 1965. In certain olivine crystals, the researchers noted variations in nickel concentrations inside the crystal cores that appeared to have formed in the mantle. The fact that the chemical variations survived the ascent through the crust implied that diffusion had little time to smear them out. Plank and Ruprecht concluded that the magma must have risen through roughly 35 kilometers of crust in just months, or at most, a few years. "That was a surprise," Plank says. The results—suggesting the possibility of a direct connection between the mantle and the surface—contradicted the widespread idea that magma follows a tortuous path upward, pooling in magma chambers along the way before finally erupting. In many cases, though, it appears that magma does spend millennia loitering a few kilometers beneath the surface, only to mobilize rapidly before an eruption. At Mount Hood in Oregon, for example, Cooper examined rocks from the volcano's last two eruptions, 1500 and 220 years ago. She focused on plagioclase crystals that formed in shallow magma chambers in the crust. By measuring the concentrations of uranium and its radioactive daughter elements, she found that these crystals were born at least 20,000 years ago. Many of these plagioclase crystals also had numerous layers with different chemical compositions, which they acquired over their long lifetimes. When Cooper looked closely at the boundaries between these layers, she found something startling: They were only slightly smudged, suggesting that in spite of their age, the crystals had only a brief sojourn in hot, liquid magma. In 2014, she and Adam Kent of Oregon State University in Corvallis explained their discovery by proposing that the magma spent as much as 99% of its time in storage at temperatures too cool to erupt and too cool for diffusion. Instead, it existed in a mostly solid crystalline mush beneath Mount Hood. The results support the so-called "mush model," which has gained traction in the last decade or so. Cooper's work suggests that magma may liquefy and erupt even more quickly than many researchers thought. "It's a bit of a subtle shift, but it's very important, because all of a sudden, everything you want to do"—mixing and assembling the final pot of magma that erupts—"all that has to happen really quickly," Cooper says. Crystal clocks from a 3600-year-old eruption of the Greek volcano Santorini, which had been dormant for 18,000 years, suggest that it awakened in a century or less. If other volcanoes behave similarly, it would explain why researchers have struggled to find evidence for large molten magma chambers on Earth today—such vats of liquid magma may only exist immediately prior to an eruption. When an eruption finally happens, magma races from its subterranean source to the surface. Plank's current quest is to understand whether the speed of that ascent influences how explosively a volcano erupts—causing Hawaii's Kilauea, for example, to erupt gently today in spite of explosive outbursts in the past. Plank and others suspect that, all else being equal, a slowly rising magma has more time to lose dissolved gases—and therefore erupts less violently—than magma that gushes toward the surface. "It's not the gas in the seltzer bottle, it's how fast you open the seltzer bottle," she says. But how does one measure the speed of magma rising deep beneath the ground? Instead of studying diffusion in crystals, Plank has looked at how dissolved volatiles like water and carbon dioxide diffuse through melt tubes, tiny burrows in crystals that fill with liquid magma. As crystals rise toward the surface, the volatiles trapped in a melt tube diffuse toward its mouth, striving to stay in equilibrium with the dropping concentrations in the magma outside the crystal. This produces a diffusion profile along the tube that Plank and others can use as a clock. Because these gases move relatively fast, the technique allows them to time processes that unfold rapidly. They have found that slugs of magma can rise 10 kilometers in roughly 10 minutes. "It's like a freight train," she says. Her preliminary results from a handful of volcanoes in Alaska, Hawaii, and Central America support the idea that ascent rates correlate with explosivity. She's working now to study more volcanoes, but, she says, "the problem is that most of those eruptions go unsampled." So she's getting creative; when the Pavlof Volcano erupted violently on the Alaska Peninsula in March of this year, she bartered a box of fresh fruit for a trashcan of ash collected by locals. Her team still had to search through it for crystals that meet their criteria—another challenge. "My students pick for hours under a microscope looking for the one olivine that has a weird tube in it," she says. "We published a paper on four of them, that's how rare they are." Relying on a handful of tiny crystals to track an entire body of magma worries some outsiders. "People are making strong interpretations based on not a whole lot of results," Sisson says. Dan Morgan, a petrologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and an early practitioner of diffusion chronometry, shares that concern. Although there's no way around it in Plank's work, Morgan says researchers should be careful with small sample numbers. "If you find five very photogenic crystals, they will be anomalous," he says. One 2015 study, led by Thomas Shea, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, points out that researchers must analyze at least 20 olivine profiles to account for the fact that chemicals diffuse in three dimensions through a crystal. So Morgan and others have been working on faster ways to measure and analyze diffusion profiles. One strategy is to skip the slow process of moving point by point across the crystal face with the microprobe, and instead use a technique called backscattered electron microscopy, which essentially snaps a chemical photo of the crystal. The brightness of the image can serve as a proxy for the concentration of iron and magnesium, and the process takes much less time. Both Morgan and Costa are also developing user-friendly software to help researchers who aren't experts in diffusion modeling interpret their data. Morgan says that when he started out, he could model two or three chemical profiles in a day; his new daily record is 80. By speeding up the process, he hopes researchers can generate more data, "which then starts to tell you things at the scale of the whole magma mass rather than an individual crystal's story." Others worry about uncertainties in the diffusion rates, especially for less common elements and minerals. But Costa says that it's important to keep perspective. Even if the uncertainties are 100% or more, the clock results can still be meaningful. "If I find 1 month, 100% uncertainty is a few months," he says. "It's still not 100 years." The biggest challenge, according to experts like Costa and Morgan, isn't calibrating the stopwatch—it's knowing which volcanic processes the crystals are recording. That's why many researchers are studying crystals from eruptions of actively monitored volcanoes. Maren Kahl, a petrologist at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, has used that approach at one of the best studied volcanoes on Earth, Mount Etna in Italy. She and her colleagues examined crystals from eight well-documented eruptive episodes between 1991 and 2008. The researchers were able to tie monitoring records of earthquakes, ground deformation, and gas emissions to pulses of magma recorded in crystal chemistry, which they dated using diffusion chronometry. The result was an unprecedented picture of the volcano's multichambered plumbing, with five different magma zones and three dominant pathways between them. The researchers were even able to create a model of how the volcano erupts based on realistic physics. "We've never been able to quite do that before," Plank says. As researchers get better at linking the crystals' stories with observations of modern eruptions, Kahl says, they will gain confidence about applying the technique to ancient ones, as Costa is doing at Gede. Of the 1500 potentially active volcanoes on Earth, only a small fraction are actively monitored, and fewer still have erupted since scientists started watching. With diffusion chronometry, however, researchers can use crystals to learn the histories and personalities of these hibernating volcanoes. "We can go pick up the rocks, study the minerals, and basically get timescale information about an eruption that happened, let's say, 100,000 years ago," Kahl says. And by diving deep into a volcano's past, scientists can gain a glimpse into its future.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

For the 100 million people who live within 3 feet of sea level in East and Southeast Asia, the news that sea level in their region fluctuated wildly more than 6,000 years ago is important, according to research published by a team of ocean scientists and statisticians, including Rutgers professors Benjamin Horton and Robert Kopp and Rutgers Ph.D. student Erica Ashe. That's because those fluctuations occurred without the assistance of human-influenced climate change. In a paper published in Nature Communications, Horton, Kopp, Ashe, lead author Aron Meltzner and others report that the relative sea level around Belitung Island in Indonesia rose twice just under 2 feet in the period from 6,850 years ago to 6,500 years ago. That this oscillation took place without any human-assisted climate change suggests to Kopp, Horton and their co-authors that such a change in sea level could happen again now, on top of the rise in sea level that is already projected to result from climate change. This could be catastrophic for people living so close to the sea. "This research is a very important piece of work that illustrates the potential rates of sea-level rise that can happen from natural variability alone," says Horton, professor of marine and coastal sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "If a similar oscillation were to occur in East and Southeast Asia in the next two centuries, it could impact tens of millions of people and associated ecosystems." Meltzner, a senior research fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, along with Horton, Kopp and their co-authors, used coral microatolls to understand when, and by how much, the sea level had risen and fallen near the Indonesian island of Belitung, which lies between Sumatra and Borneo. A microatoll is a circular coral colony, typically no more than about 20 feet across, in which the topmost coral is dead and the bottom part living and growing. By taking samples from microatolls in different places, scientists can date rises and falls of sea level. The microatolls are what scientists call a "proxy" - a natural process that provides a reliable record of past events. "In any region, you try to find the proxy controlled by sea level," Horton says. "In New Jersey, we have no corals, so we use salt marshes. In the tropics, corals are the go-to proxy." The scientists studied microatolls at two sites on opposite sides of the island. Meltzner says they didn't expect the fluctuations they found because those changes in sea level contradicted what they knew about sea level in Southeast Asia. "Our conventional understanding of ocean circulation and ice-melting history told us that such fluctuations should not occur, so we were a bit mystified at the results from our first site," Meltzner says. "But after finding a similar pattern at a second site 80 kilometers to the southeast, and ruling out other plausible explanations, it was clear that the coral growth patterns must reflect regional changes in sea level. There would be way too many coincidences otherwise." The paper comes out of a long-running research project aimed at understanding the physical processes involved in sea-level rise. Such understanding, Kopp says, is necessary to help scientists understand the present and likely future state of the ocean. "This is a basic science problem," Kopp says. "It's about understanding past changes. Understanding what drove those changes is what allows us to test the climate models we use to predict future changes." In addition to Meltzner, Horton, Kopp, and Ashe, the authors are Adam Switzer, Qiang Qiu, Emma Hill, and Jedrzej Majewski, also of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; David Hill of Oregon State University, Sarah Bradley of Utrecht University and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; and Danny Natawidjaja and Bambang Suwargadi of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

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