Surface and Interface Analysis | Year: 2014
Amendments have been made to International Standards Organization (ISO) 18115-1:2010 extending the number of terms and, in a few cases where usage has changed, incorporating revisions. Part 1 covers 600 terms used in Auger electron spectroscopy, elastic peak electron spectroscopy, reflected electron energy loss spectroscopy, SIMS, UPS, XPS, etc. as well as 75 acronyms. The terms cover words or phrases used in describing the samples, instruments and theoretical concepts involved in surface chemical analysis. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
As well as providing all the energy and nutrients that infants need for the first months of life, breast milk protects against infectious diseases. Lactoferrin is a protein in milk which provides antimicrobial protection to infants, effectively killing bacteria, fungi and even viruses. The antimicrobial activities of this protein are mainly due to a tiny fragment, less than a nanometre across, made up of six amino acids. Based on the metrology of antimicrobial mechanisms, the team predicted that copies of this fragment gather at the same time, and at the same point, to attack bacterial cells by targeting and disrupting microbial membranes. Recognising the potential applications in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, the team re-engineered the fragment into a nanoscale building block which self-assembles into virus-like capsules, to effectively target bacteria (see figure below). Not only can these capsules recognise and bind to bacteria, but they also rapidly convert into membrane-damaging holes at precise landing positions. Hasan Alkassem, a joint NPL/UCL EngD student who worked on the project, explains: "To monitor the activity of the capsules in real time we developed a high-speed measurement platform using atomic force microscopy. The challenge was not just to see the capsules, but to follow their attack on bacterial membranes. The result was striking: the capsules acted as projectiles porating the membranes with bullet speed and efficiency." Remarkably, however, these capsules do not affect surrounding human cells. Instead, they infected them like viruses do. When viruses are inside human cells they release their genes, which then use the body's cellular machinery to multiply and produce more viruses. But if viral genes are replaced with drugs or therapeutic genes, viruses become effective tools in the pursuit of gene therapy to cure many diseases, from cancer to cystic fibrosis. The research team explored this possibility and inserted model genes into the capsules. These genes were designed to switch off, or silence, a target process in human cells. The capsules harmlessly delivered the genes into the cells and effectively promoted the desired silencing. With therapeutic genes, this capability could be used to treat disorders resulting from a single mutated gene. Sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis or Duchenne muscular dystrophy are incurable at present, but can be cured by correcting corresponding mutated genes. The capsules therefore can serve as delivery vehicles for cures. The findings are reported in Chemical Science - a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry which publishes findings of exceptional significance from across the chemical sciences - and effectively demonstrate how measurement science can offer innovative solutions to healthcare, which build on and extend natural disease-fighting capabilities. More information: Valeria Castelletto et al. Structurally plastic peptide capsules for synthetic antimicrobial viruses, Chem. Sci. (2016). DOI: 10.1039/C5SC03260A
News Article | August 25, 2016
A collaboration including researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed a tuneable, high-efficiency, single-photon microwave source. The technology has great potential for applications in quantum computing and quantum information technology, as well as in studying the fundamental reactions between light and matter in quantum circuits.
News Article | August 22, 2016
Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a new technique for taking 3D thermal images of satellites. The technique is being developed for prospective use at the European Space Agency's (ESA) largest vacuum facility, the Large Space Simulator (LSS). The measurements will better allow measurement data to be compared with thermal models, verifying their accuracy.
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- After decades of resistance from the state of Nevada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking the final steps to add an abandoned copper mine in Yerington to the list of the nation's most polluted Superfund sites. The EPA formally proposed the National Priority Listing of the World War II era-mine in the Federal Register on Thursday — 31 years after Nevada regulators first accused Anaconda Mining Co. of illegally discharging pollutants from the toxic site 80 miles southeast of Reno. "Other cleanup options were evaluated, but are not viable at this time," the EPA said in a statement explaining its move. The agency has pressed for priority Superfund status twice before based on tests that showed toxic levels of uranium produced during the processing of the copper in leach ponds had leaked into the groundwater, but backed off when state and local business leaders opposed the move for fear of a stigma that could affect property values. Gov. Brian Sandoval announced in March he was reluctantly dropping the state's opposition because the NPL listing will make $31 million available to help with the cleanup. "This public notice in the Federal Register is an anticipated next step in the process to secure federal funds to help with remediation of the Anaconda mine site," said Kay Scherer, interim director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "We are pleased to see that the site — which remains fully under control — has been recognized and included on the list of proposed national priorities, as it demonstrates that the U.S. EPA acknowledges the site is on track to proceed with corrective action," she said Thursday. The mine, which covers 6 square miles and is owned partly by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, also is polluted with arsenic, mercury and lead. Atlantic Richfield acquired the property in 1977 from Anaconda Copper, which built the mine in 1941. Fueled by demand after WWII, Anaconda produced 1.7 billion pounds of copper from 1952 to 1978. The site's most recent owner, Arimetco, abandoned it in 2000. "We have been working to address the contamination at the Anaconda mine since 2001," said Alexis Strauss, EPA's acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. That's the first year the EPA first proposed priority Superfund status. Although it was kept secret at the time, tests conducted in 1976 found high uranium levels in one of the mine's evaporation ponds and additional tests in 1984 found uranium in monitoring wells at up to 40 times the level the EPA adopted for drinking water. Local activists and conservationists stepped up pressure for Superfund status in 2003 after a government contractor working with the BLM and the EPA on cleanup plans discovered documents outlining the history of the containment testing in the Anaconda archives at the University of Wyoming. BLM's Nevada Director John Ruhs said Thursday his agency "agrees with both EPA and the state that the site warrants attention."