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News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.materialstoday.com

Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast have developed simulation tools which will help to improve the safety of the latest generation of carbon fiber airplanes, formula one racing cars and future lightweight family cars. During the €4 million European study the researchers will work with Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, McLaren-Honda F1 and Fiat to develop safer and more efficient ways to use lightweight carbon fiber composites in their designs. According to Professor Brian Falzon, Royal Academy of Engineering Bombardier Chair in Aerospace Composites, the research could allow companies in the aerospace, automotive and rail industries to try new designs virtually, ruling out any safety concerns without having to incur huge costs in physically testing these designs. Through the project, researchers will explore the development of new generations of composite materials, using nanotechnology, which could improve safety even further. ‘At Queen’s, we are training the next generation of researchers in this area and have developed a cutting-edge computer system which uses virtual testing to predict how carbon fiber composites will react when impacted, when crushed, or when put under extreme loading – allowing for improved crashworthiness design and reducing impact to passengers,’ said Professor Falzon. ‘Using mathematics and computer software, our Advanced Composites Research Group at Queen’s has developed a system which is as close to reality as possible and can pick up problems that may not always be visible, such as internal wing damage on a plane which may occur during operation. By understanding the failure mechanisms of composite materials such as carbon fiber, we are able to better exploit their unique properties and create very lightweight transportation structures. This will minimise environmental impact whilst ensuring utmost safety to passengers.’ This story is reprinted from material from Queen's University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.


News Article | December 7, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

Rainbow Seed Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on promising technologies developed at the UK’s largest publicly-funded research facilities and campuses, today announces that the fund have now leveraged more than £200m to work supporting UK’s most ground-breaking and innovative companies. Since the Fund’s inception in 2002, Rainbow Seed Fund has been investing in the earliest and riskiest stages to create promising technology companies that stem out of engineering and high-quality science research. The Fund has made a significant contribution to the commercialisation of more than 30 high quality science technology start-up companies in sectors such as health, environmental services, international development and security. Rainbow’s portfolio showcases a number of ‘world’s firsts’ ambitions and includes two companies named by the World Economic Forum as ‘Technology Pioneers’ (see below list). Rainbow Seed Fund partners are leading UK public sector research establishments led by STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council), BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), NERC and Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory). The fund is independently managed by Midven. “Securing the first round of finance is notoriously hard for early-stage companies, as is investor willingness to continue to back the most promising companies in further funding rounds,” said Dr Andrew Muir, Rainbow Seed Fund Investment Director. “Rainbow aims to lower this establishment phase hurdle and drive companies towards commercialisation and sustainability, offering strategic support and leveraging private capital to help businesses stand on their own. Our differentiating approach is that we don’t just invest in established teams or developed companies. With a risk appetite that is higher than pure private funds, we get involved at the earliest stages and continue to grow with them as ‘patient capital’ investors.” Rainbow Seed Fund Portfolio: World’s Firsts Two of Rainbow’s portfolio companies, Tokamak Energy and Synthace, have been named World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers, joining the ranks of the world’s most innovative companies. By offering backing at an early stage, Rainbow has a unique opportunity to support the UK’s most promising scientists and help turn their ideas into market-leading companies. A number of Rainbow Seed Fund portfolio companies are being recognised for their ‘world’s first ambitions,’ including: MANUFACTURING / ENGINEERING -- Cobalt Light Systems, a spin-out from Rainbow partner STFC, manufactures and sells innovative instruments and technologies for non-invasive, rapid analysis of materials. This technology has applications in airport security to quickly screen liquid contents like baby’s milk; pharmaceutical materials analysis of capsules, tablets, gels or solutions; and handheld detection devices to analyse hazardous materials, explosives and narcotics. Cobalt won the prestigious MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014. -- Last year, Tokamak Energy garnered a 2015 Technology Pioneer award to accelerate the development of cost-effective, clean energy from fusion within the next 10 years. Tokamak aims to accelerate the development of fusion energy by combining two emerging technologies – spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors. MEDICAL / BIOTECH -- Crescendo Biologics is a biopharmaceutical company discovering and developing potent, highly differentiated Humabody® therapeutics in Oncology. In October 2016, Crescendo signed a deal with Takeda on using its Humabody® technology platform to generate tumour targeting drug conjugates and immuno-oncology therapeutics. The deal has a headline value of up to $790m. -- University College London spin-out Synthace, which provides next generation software and processes to exponentially improve productivity in bioscience, was named as the only UK entrant on the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2016 list. Synthace is developing Antha to automate biological research. Antha brings an engineering approach to biology, making experiments far more efficient, connecting and automating complex equipment and enabling better engineer biology for health, food, energy and manufacturing. The company, is already serving customers across the pharmaceutical, agriscience and industrial biotechnology industries. SOFTWARE / HARDWARE -- Formed in February 2011, Spectral Edge is a UEA spin-out from the same stable as the technology behind Apple’s HDR image processing. Spectral Edge technology enhances images and video by using information outside the normal visible spectrum or applying transformations to that within it. Applications range from medical imaging and surveillance all the way to consumer applications such as enhancing camera images and TV pictures. ENVIRONMENTAL -- International GeoScience Services (IGS), a spin-out from the British Geological Survey, has developed IGS Xplore, a new and innovative mineral prospectivity software system designed for de-risking early-stage decision making in mineral exploration. The software system uses novel, non-GIS based, semantically-driven technology to generate early-stage, value-added prospectivity maps for regions, countries or geological terranes where base geodata exists. IGS Xplore readily identifies early-stage exploration targets, quickly and cost-effectively, for an extensive range of commodities in a wide variety of regional geological environments. -- A spin-out from STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxsensis is pioneering a “new breed” of highly accurate, highly stable optical sensors. Using light to measure heat, temperature and pressure, based upon proprietary intellectual property rights, Oxsensis’ dynamic sensors can be used in extreme environments — like those created by jet engines and power stations — where traditional sensors run out of steam. Better sensors allow power savings, reduced emissions and improved asset risk management. Oxsensis works with blue-chip partner in global markets of national significance — aerospace, power generation, space, nuclear, and oil and gas. SPACE -- Oxford Space Systems (OSS) has developed a new generation of deployable global satellite space structures that are lighter, less complex and lower cost than those in current commercial demand. In September 2016, OSS set a space industry record going from company formation to material design through product design, test and launch of its deployable boom on a cubesat (a type of miniaturized satellite for space research) in under 30 months. OSS is using the mission as a flight opportunity to validate a number of predictions made for its proprietary flexible composite material in the demanding environment of low-earth orbit. Rainbow Seed Fund Milestones -- Helped to create more than 30 high technology start-up companies across sectors such as health, environmental services, international development and security. -- Leveraged more than £200 million of private investment into their portfolio companies. This represents a ratio of over £20 for every £1 invested from Rainbow. -- Over and above co-investment, Rainbow has helped generate wider economic impact in the form of salaries, taxes and economic activity in suppliers. Known as “Gross Value Add” (GVA), this measurement, at £5 of GVA for every £1 invested by Rainbow, shows the benefit of early stage investment and is forecasted to grow substantially as the companies mature and grow. -- The Fund bolsters the UK’s exports – an overwhelming majority of sales in Rainbow companies are overseas and total sales have already reached over £70m. -- Rainbow has helped to create 240+ high value technology-related jobs, a figure that is rising rapidly as the companies in Rainbow’s portfolio accelerate and transition from research into production and sales. -- The Fund has already had four successful exits and has recycled the funds into new investments. About Rainbow Seed Fund The Rainbow Seed Fund is an early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to kick-starting technology companies from great science. We focus on companies based on research conducted in publicly-funded laboratories, located on the Research Councils’ science and technology campuses or working in fields of strategic interest to the UK (such as synthetic biology). The Fund is backed by nine UK publicly-funded research organisations including STFC, BBSRC, Dstl and NERC and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Fund, whose portfolio comprises more than 30 companies, holds investments in some of the UK’s most innovative companies in areas as diverse as novel antibiotics, research into Alzheimer’s disease, “green” chemicals and airport security. The Fund has leveraged more than £200 million of private investment from just under £9 million of its own investment and helped create many high-value technology jobs. The Rainbow Seed Fund is managed by Midven, an established venture capital firm with a successful track record of investing in small and medium-sized enterprises. For more information, please visit http://www.rainbowseedfund.com.


News Article | December 26, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Black engineering graduates are less likely to find jobs than white students with lower second or third class degrees, according to a report that reveals stark inequalities within the profession. The review, by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), found that being black or minority ethnic was a bigger obstacle to employment than any other factor considered, including degree classification, attending a less prestigious university or gender. Bola Fatimilehin, the academy’s head of diversity, said an old boys’ network approach to recruitment and unconscious biases were contributing to the challenges faced by non-white students. “There is a certain amount of stereotyping of who can be an engineer and what talent looks like,” she said. “A lot of people fall into the mode of thinking that there aren’t a lot of black engineers because [black people] are not interested in it.” The analysis found that 71% of white engineering graduates were in full-time jobs within six months of leaving university, compared with just 52% of Asian students and 46% of black students. When gender, age, class of degree and type of institution were taken into account, black and Asian graduates were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts. The figures highlight an apparent paradox in which government and industry leaders have consistently pointed to a national shortage of engineers, while a high proportion of black and ethnic minority graduates are failing to find jobs. Indeed, the science minister, Jo Johnson, noted “the chronic shortages of engineers that have long held our economy back” in a comment article last month. The shortage of engineers is often cited as an incentive to attract more women into the profession – just 12-15% of engineering undergraduates are female. “That’s true, but what about the missed opportunity with all these graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds?” said Fatimilehin. “It feels like a low hanging fruit.” Gender has dominated the diversity agenda in engineering for the past decade, but the report found that it only has a minor influence on immediate employment prospects for graduates. Women were slightly less likely to enter engineering occupations after university, but more likely to pursue further study. The focus on “getting girls into engineering” has led to the lack of progress on racial diversity being overlooked, according to Fatimilehin. “People come back to gender because it feels safer,” she said, adding that male engineers tended to get behind the idea that women face additional barriers because most would have a wife, daughter or female friend. “They’re less likely to have a friend who is black,” she said. The RAEng report puts forward several possible explanations for the findings, which were based annual destination surveys of around 250,000 students by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Engineering firms often recruit from Russell Group universities, which on average have lower proportions of ethnic minority students. However, even when institution type is taken into account there is a gulf between the employment prospects of white students and black and Asian ones. “This suggests statistically that ethnicity itself is correlated with an unemployment outcome, and is a stronger effect than any of the other factors studied,” the report concluded. According to Fatimilehin, unconscious bias, preconceptions about who will “fit in” with company culture and people “recruiting in their own image” also play a role. “The chief execs say ‘there’s nobody out there’,” she said. “There are people out there. As a society we need to get better at looking for people, rather than just accepting that a certain type of black person doesn’t exist.” Anita Bernie, director of spacecraft platforms at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), said she was “amazed” by the gulf in career prospects between white and ethnic minority students. Bernie, who is black, said that SSTL has a diverse mix of ethnicities and that most of her current team are female. “When I go to other companies, the mix in terms of gender and ethnicity is very different,” she said. Bernie agreed that employer recruitment bias is likely to be a problem. “It’s partly human nature that you tend to want to recruit people like you,” she said. “It’s really easy to see a young white lad come in and think ‘I used to be like that’. I do think that exists in other companies.” Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “It is shocking that black and minority ethnic people with degrees are still not getting the same job opportunities as others. This suggests we have a long way to go to create the equal society the prime minister talked about on the steps of Downing Street.” An EHRC report published earlier this year found that the life prospects for young black and minority ethnic people have got much worse over the past five years and are at their most challenging for generations. On average, black, Asian and ethnic minority workers with degrees are two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than white workers with degrees, the report found. Belinda Phipps, CEO of the Science Council, welcomed the RAEng review, saying it was important to highlight inequalities in the profession. “From the moment a baby is born its life is shaped by the enforcement of stereotypes: girl children are taught they must be clean and quiet; those of certain ethnic origin are expected not to succeed,” she said.


News Article | January 20, 2016
Site: phys.org

Professor O'Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics at the University of Bristol and Visiting Fellow at Stanford University, is part of a European Research Council (ERC) Ideas Lab delegation who have been invited to talk at the annual meeting to industrial and political leaders of the world, including Prime Minister David Cameron. The session will discuss the future of computing and how new fields of computer sciences are paving the way for the next digital revolution. Quantum computing has the capability to unlock answers to some of humanity's most pressing questions that are presently unsolvable with current computing technologies. In 2014, the UK government invested over £270 million in the development of quantum technologies, ensuring that the UK becomes the epicentre of a technology revolution and Professor O'Brien has been leading the development of quantum computing using light in its quantum state—the photon—as the key ingredient. Professor O'Brien said: "In less than ten years quantum computers will begin to outperform everyday computers, leading to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and beyond. "The very fast computing power given by quantum computers has the potential to disrupt traditional businesses and challenge our cyber-security. Businesses need to be ready for a quantum future because it's coming." In his talk, Professor O'Brien will outline the current status of quantum computing and its potential applications and he will reveal his architectural blue-print for a manufacturable photonic quantum computer, showing all the components and a roadmap toward building a practical machine. Quantum technologies offer ultra-secure communications, sensors of unprecedented precision and computers that are exponentially more powerful than any supercomputer for a given task. These technologies are destined to fundamentally change our lives and the first commercially available quantum devices are only now beginning to emerge. As the holder of a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Quantum Engineering and an EPSRC RISE leader, Professor O'Brien has a ten year vision to engineer new quantum technologies that will inevitably disrupt todays ICT models, creating new businesses and valuable new markets. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of business and political leaders will take place from Jan. 20-23, 2016 in Davos, Switzerland.


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: www.materialstoday.com

A team led by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the UK has come up with a new way to produce two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials by dissolving layered materials in liquids. These liquids can be used to apply the 2D nanomaterials over large areas and at low costs, potentially leading to a variety of important future applications. With their remarkable physical properties, 2D nanomaterials such as graphene have the potential to revolutionize many technologies, but their translation into real world applications has been limited due to the challenges involved in making and manipulating 2D nanomaterials on an industrial scale. The new approach, reported in a paper in Nature Chemistry, produced single layers of many 2D nanomaterials in a scalable way. The researchers applied the method to a wide variety of materials, including those with semiconductor and thermoelectric properties, to create 2D materials that could be used in solar cells or for turning wasted heat energy into electrical energy, for example. "2D nanomaterials have outstanding properties and a unique size, which suggests they could be used in everything from computer displays to batteries to smart textiles," explained study director Chris Howard from UCL. "Many methods for making and applying 2D 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 realize the potential of 2D nanomaterials in the future." In the study, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the scientists inserted positively-charged lithium and potassium ions between the layers of different 2D materials including bismuth telluride (Bi Te ), molybdenum disulphide (MoS ) and titanium disulphide (TiS ). This gave each material layer a negative charge, creating a 'layered material salt'. These layered material salts were then gently dissolved in selected solvents without using chemical reactions or stirring. This created solutions of 2D nanomaterial sheets with the same shape as the starting material but a negative charge. Using atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, the scientists analyzed the contents of these solutions to investigate the structure and thickness of the 2D nanomaterials. They found that the layered materials dissolved to form tiny sheets of clean, undamaged, single layers. The team, comprising researchers from UCL, the University of Bristol and the Cambridge Graphene Centre in the UK and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France, was able to show that even 2D nanomaterial sheets comprising millions of atoms produced stable solutions rather than suspensions. "We didn't expect such a range of 2D 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," said first author Patrick Cullen from UCL. "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." "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," he continued. "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 2D nanomaterials using our process and trying them out in different applications as the possibilities are near endless." UCL Business, the technology commercialization company of UCL has patented this research and will be supporting the commercialization process. This story is adapted from material from UCL, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.


News Article | October 25, 2016
Site: www.cnet.com

This is part of CNET's "Tech Enabled" series about the role technology plays in helping the disability community. Virtual reality and augmented reality are often associated with gaming. For many people, the allure has to do with the ability to visit an alien world or an exotic location -- to go someplace or do something they couldn't do otherwise. Bridging worlds seems to be a sweet spot for these technologies. But VR and AR don't necessarily have to take users to far-off or fictional places. They also can better connect people with vision issues to the everyday world. Most take for granted the ability to sit at a computer at work and read the text on the screen, or freely and confidently walk around their home or office. These technologies aim to help people reclaim some of the vision they may have lost and to make it easier to function in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 246 million people have low vision, which includes blurry vision, tunnel vision or blind spots that can't be corrected. The WHO also estimates that 90 percent of those who have vision problems, not just low vision, tend to have low incomes. Frank Werblin, professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, is working to bring a lower-cost vision aid to the low-vision community. About a year and a half ago, he realized he could do this by piggybacking on virtual-reality technology. IrisVision is an app that uses a Samsung Gear VR headset. It's responsive to the wearer's head movements and will magnify whatever they're directly looking at, while still providing a wide field of view. It's meant to help users better see the world, even read on a computer. One of the biggest challenges he's trying to address is cost. Wearable vision aids can go as high as $15,000. "There's a huge price gap between a magnifying glass, which you could buy for $25 or $50, and what these people could really use, which is a wearable portable device, which is many thousands of dollars," he said. IrisVision is available online for $2,500, and in certain clinics around the country on an experimental basis. The price includes the software, headset and phone needed to power the Gear VR. Werblin, who for 44 years has been studying the way the retina functions, even took it to the California School for the Blind in Fremont, California. Werblin's not the first to use virtual-reality hardware. James Blaha had dealt with amblyopia, or lazy eye, his whole life. In the process of researching the condition and tinkering with an early Oculus Rift VR headset, the now-founder and CEO of Vivid Vision, a company that makes therapy solutions for the condition, discovered he could strengthen his weaker eye using virtual reality. Amblyopia occurs when one eye is far less effective than the other, and the brain tries to suppress it. This creates problems with depth perception that can make it hard to cross a busy street or drive, among other things. Conventional wisdom in the medical field has held that if the problem isn't fixed by the age of 8, it won't be fixed at all. Blaha is proving that idea wrong. By cranking up the brightness in the goggles for just his weaker eye, he essentially forced his brain to stop suppressing the eye. He started seeing in 3D for the first time in his life, including seeing the keys on his keyboard in relief. These days, he has 90 percent normal depth perception. "We're sort of outside the context of VR, particularly for the patients who use it, and definitely for the doctors who are not playing any of the VR games, typically," Blaha said of his company, which now has ties to about 50 clinics in the US and Canada, plus a few in Europe and Australia. Vivid Vision is also working with UC Berkeley on improving depth perception in adults. Then there are the people who have difficulty seeing at all. OxSight, formerly known as VA-ST, is a startup out of the University of Oxford that makes applications for those with vision problems. Its SmartSpecs headset is built as a portable device for those who are legally blind or partially sighted. SmartSpecs, which don't have a price just yet, boost the visibility of objects and faces by accentuating those objects and their edges against a darkened background. They even work in darkness, helping users find doorways or navigate around furniture. SmartSpecs' algorithms look for things like faces, including facial expressions, and text in real time. "I think the real trick is coming up with ways of delivering relevant information to the user without bombarding them with irrelevant info," said co-founder Stephen Hicks, who is also a university research lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering enterprise fellow at Oxford. SmartSpecs wants to give users more confidence and independence. It's set to launch mid 2017. "We have the potential," he said, "to make a dent in this feeling of isolation and helplessness that many visually impaired individuals experience."


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

A £1 million engineering prize has been awarded to the creators of digital imaging technology now used in everything from medical sensors to smartphone cameras. The winners of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering were announced at a ceremony at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on Wednesday, and are Eric Fossum, George Smith, Nobukazu Teranishi, and Michael Tompsett. They worked on three technologies that made the cameras we use today possible. Smith worked with Willard Boyle, now deceased, to develop the charged couple device (CCD) at Bell Labs in the US in the 1970s. Tompsett then realised this could have applications as an image sensor. CCD sensors were used in early digital cameras, and work by producing electrical signals when they detect light. Teranishi invented the pinned photodiode (PPD) in 1980, while at the NEC Corporation in Japan. The PPD is a type of semiconductor that made it possible to capture images of higher quality. The following decade, Fossum and his team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory worked on  complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensor technology. Originally developed to make cameras used on spacecraft smaller and lighter, CMOS sensors require much less power than CCD sensors. This has led to the development of small cameras in smartphones and even “pill cameras” that can image the inside of the body when swallowed. Speaking at a press conference before the award ceremony, Tompsett said that the strangest application he had heard of for the image sensing technology came from a group who wanted to insert a camera into the uterus of a sheep, “to observe ovulation or something”. Fossum said he had never imagined the technology becoming popular for taking selfies or “silly cat videos”. Together, the winners’ contributions to image sensors have “truly transformed the way we look at the world,” said Christopher Snowden, chairman of the award’s judging panel, noting that “there are “literally trillions of these devices in the world today.” Fossum, who is currently working on image sensors that count individual photons, says the technology will continue to develop to capture images of even higher quality and make more and more applications possible.


Two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials have been made by dissolving layered materials in liquids, according to new UCL-led research. The liquids can be used to apply the 2D nanomaterials over large areas and at low costs, enabling a variety of important future applications. LONDON, 25-Nov-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — 2D 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 2D nanomaterials on an industrial scale. The new approach, published today in Nature Chemistry, produced single layers of many 2D 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 2D materials that could be used in solar cells or for turning wasted heat energy into electrical energy, for example. “2D 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 2D 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 2D nanomaterials in the future,” explained study director Dr Chris Howard (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 (Bi Te ), molybdenum disulphide (MoS ) and titanium disulphide (TiS ), 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 2D 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 2D 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 2D nanomaterial sheets, comprising millions of atoms, made stable solutions rather than suspensions. “We didn’t expect such a range of 2D 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 (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 2D 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.


News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: phys.org

2D 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 2D nanomaterials on an industrial scale. The new approach, published today in Nature Chemistry, produced single layers of many 2D 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 2D materials that could be used in solar cells or for turning wasted heat energy into electrical energy, for example. "2D 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 2D 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 2D nanomaterials in the future," explained study director Dr Chris Howard (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 2D 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 2D 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 2D nanomaterial sheets, comprising millions of atoms, made stable solutions rather than suspensions. "We didn't expect such a range of 2D 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 (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 2D 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.


News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: www.cemag.us

Two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials have been made by dissolving layered materials in liquids, according to new UCL-led research. The liquids can be used to apply the 2D nanomaterials over large areas and at low costs, enabling a variety of important future applications. 2D nanomaterials, such as graphene, have the potential to revolutionize technology through their remarkable physical properties, but their translation into real world applications has been limited due to the challenges of making and manipulating 2D nanomaterials on an industrial scale. The new approach, published in Nature Chemistry, produced single layers of many 2D 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 2D materials that could be used in solar cells or for turning wasted heat energy into electrical energy, for example. “2D 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 2D 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 realize the potential of 2D nanomaterials in the future,” explains study director Dr. Chris Howard (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 (MoS ) and titanium disulphide (TiS ), 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 2D nanomaterial sheets with the same shape as the starting material but with a negative charge. The scientists analyzed the contents of the solutions using atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to investigate the structure and thickness of the 2D 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 2D nanomaterial sheets, comprising millions of atoms, made stable solutions rather than suspensions. “We didn’t expect such a range of 2D 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,” says first author Dr. Patrick Cullen (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 2D nanomaterials using our process and trying them out in different applications as the possibilities are near endless,” he concludes. UCL Business PLC (UCLB), the technology commercialization company of UCL has patented this research and will be supporting the commercialization process.

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