News: Kemi- och bioteknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyMon, 30 Mar 2020 14:15:52 +0200 educational efforts to ensure nuclear safety<p><b>Europe faces a serious shortage of expertise within nuclear safety. Several authorities and organisations have already sounded the alarm about the dangerous lack of competence in this area. Now, the EU programme Euratom is investing around 5 million euros in educating a new generation of researchers and specialists in nuclear technology. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology are at the heart of the initiative - based on online education.​​​​</b></p><div><div>The programme covers two major educational projects, of which Chalmers will coordinate one and participate as a partner in the other. Both aim to maintain competence in, respectively, reactor physics and nuclear chemistry.</div> <div><br /></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/ChristopheDemazière_20190614_beskuren_200x250.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><div>“If we do not maintain a sufficient level of knowledge and expertise, this could be a safety and security risk. There are more than a hundred nuclear reactors currently operating across Europe, which account for more than 25 percent of all electricity generation,” says Christophe Demazière, Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and coordinator of the EU project Great Pioneer.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>As nuclear power plants are decommissioned, so interest in nuclear technology education has diminished throughout Europe. This has led several authorities and organisations, including the European Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to sound the alarm that a new generation of qualified researchers and specialists is needed to ensure nuclear safety. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and the Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste have voiced similar concerns.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A report from SSM makes clear the nuclear industry’s great need for more experts in the next fifteen years. There is also a growing need for radiation science specialists, within areas such as healthcare. Within the Swedish nuclear industry and healthcare, a growing proportion of the expert workforce is expected to retire within a few years.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The same trend is evident throughout Europe. As early as 2012 the Joint Research Center (JRC) warned the European Commission that there would be a shortage of around 7000 reactor physics and nuclear safety specialists by 2020. Since the report was written, several training programmes in the area have disappeared, which has contributed to increasing the shortfall further still.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Modelling%20algorithms_webb.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="background-color:initial" />The teaching of the three-year EU project Great Pioneer is based on innovative and successful methods in active and distance learning. Coordinator Christophe Demazière has developed these methods for many years, in close collaboration with two pedagogical researchers at Chalmers University of Technology’s Department of Communication and Learning in Science: Associate Professors Christian Stöhr and Professor Tom Adawi. Recently, the researchers presented the results of their extensive collaboration in the scientific journal<a href=""> Computers &amp; Education​</a>. Work will continue within the framework of the new EU project as the education models are now being exported.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In the coming years, approximately 600 students at universities across Europe will be able to take courses in reactor physics and reactor safety, looking at both theory and practice, programming principles in nuclear safety and using training reactors. The concept is based on the students preparing outside of lectures, so that the teaching time can then be used for joint activities with the students at the centre – whether they are on site or at a distance. A total of nine courses are planned through Great Pioneer, of which Chalmers will produce six.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The opportunity for distance education is also an important component of the second EU project, in which Chalmers acts a partner.</div> <div><br /></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Teodora_200221_beskuren200x250.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;background-color:initial" /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><div>“Nuclear engineering programmes are being phased out across Europe, as there are not enough students. Instead of each educational institution trying to offer its own programmes, we will merge and create a sustainable, long-term educational network across Europe,” says Teodora Retegan Vollmer, Professor of Nuclear Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Chalmers representative for the EU project A-Cinch.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>She has been working on educational projects in the EU since 2010, when she was one of the initiators of the Cinch concept. The new project includes developments such as virtual laboratory exercises that students can perform remotely. Chalmers also offers unique educational opportunities in the safe handling of meaningful quantities of radioactive materials.  ​</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Whether you are building or decommissioning nuclear reactors, this training is crucial for being able to do it safely,” says Teodora Retegan Vollmer.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>There has not been a master's degree in nuclear engineering at Chalmers in the last few years, but the two new EU projects evidence how the expertise is in international demand.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The goal of the educational projects is to create long-term sustainable education, where we can share both teachers and students, and work with pedagogical methods to improve learning. This is crucial in attracting students and ensuring that the reactors currently in operation can continue to operate safely in the long-term,” says Christophe Demazière.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The EU decisions on the funded education projects become official once all participants have signed the agreement, which they have already begun to do.</div> <div><br /></div></div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">Text: </strong><span style="background-color:initial">Mia Halleröd Palmgren, </span><a href=""></a><br /></div> <div><b>Image</b>: Henrik Sandsjö (Christophe Demazière) och Mia Halleröd Palmgren (Teodora Retegan Vollmer).</div> <div><br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">The new education projects within the EU: Great Pioneer and A-Cinch​</h2> <div><ul><li><span style="background-color:initial">The training project &quot;GRE @ T-PIONEeR&quot; (Graduate Education Alliance for Teaching the Physics and Safety of Nuclear Reactors) is aimed at master’s students, doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and nuclear engineers. The concept is based on active learning and the course elements can be followed either on site or at a distance. It is coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology and Professor Christophe Demazière, who since 2017 has also led <a href="">the EU project Cortex</a>.</span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial"></span>A-Cinch (A-CINCH: Augmented cooperation in education and training in nuclear and radiochemistry) will train about a hundred European students and specialists. The project is coordinated by the Czech Technical University in Prague.</li> <li>Both educational programmes run for three years, and consist of theory, practical elements and distance education.</li> <li>The projects have received EU funding under the Euratom work programme 2019-2020 and are part of the Horizon 2020 framework. The consortium of the projects has been granted EUR 2.3 million each for three years (a total of approximately SEK 50 million). Chalmers is awarded SEK 6.3 million for Great Pioneer and just under SEK 3 million for A-Cinch.</li> <li>Ten European partners from seven different countries will participate in Great Pioneer, and eleven countries will participate in A-Cinch.<br /></li></ul></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">For more information, contakt:</h2> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><strong><a href="/en/staff/Pages/Christophe-Demazière.aspx">Christophe Demazière</a></strong>, Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 30 82, <a href=""></a></span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong><a href="/en/staff/Pages/tretegan.aspx">Teodora Retegan Vollmer​</a></strong>, Professor of Nuclear Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, <span style="background-color:initial">Chalmers University of Technology</span><span style="background-color:initial">, +46 </span><span style="background-color:initial">31 772 28 81, </span><a href="">​</a></div> <span></span><div></div></div> <div><br /></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Further reading: <span>Reports and educational initiatives</span></h2> <div><ul><li>The Swedish Radiation Protection Authority's investigation <a href="">&quot;The basis for a long-term supply of expertise in the field of radiation safety&quot;</a> (In Swedish, 2018)</li> <li><a href="">T<span style="background-color:initial">he Euratom programme for 2019-2020.</span></a></li> <li> The Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste’s report <a href="">“The state of knowledge in the nuclear waste area 2020. Step by step. Where are we? Where are we going?”​</a> (In Swedish)<br /></li> <li>The European Commission's report ” <a href="">Putting into Perspective the Supply of and Demand for Nuclear Experts by 2020 within the EU-27 Nuclear Energy Sector</a><span style="background-color:initial">” (2012)</span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial">The FORATOM-ordered report</span> ”<a href=";refresh=5cc15b9cd1ec31556175772">Economic and Social Impact Report</a><span style="background-color:initial">” (2019).   </span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial">Chalmers Professor Christophe Demazière has recently<a href="/en/departments/physics/news/Pages/Teaching-the-algorithms-that-are-crucial-for-nuclear-reactor-modelling.aspx"> written a book ​</a>aimed at both future and current engineers in nuclear technology and nuclear safety.​</span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial">Read more about the pedagogical methods on which Great Pioneer is based, in the scientific article ”<a href=""> The polarizing effect of the online flipped classroom</a>” I tidskriften Computers &amp; Education (2020).</span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial">Chalmers has taken the initiative for a knowledge package aimed at secondary schools: <a href="">&quot;Radiation science for the curious&quot;</a>. The training package has been developed in collaboration with an academic competence center for radiation science, SAINT, and led by nuclear energy researcher <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/klaraib.aspx">Klara Insulander Björk ​</a>at Chalmers’ Department of Physics. Read more about the education initiative here. <a href="">Read more about the education initiative here. </a></span></li></ul></div>Thu, 26 Mar 2020 06:00:00 +0100 rubber-like material could replace human tissue<p><b>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have created a new, rubber-like material with a unique set of properties, which could act as a replacement for human tissue in medical procedures. The material has the potential to make a big difference to many people&#39;s lives. The research was recently published in the highly regarded scientific journal ACS Nano.</b></p><div>​In the development of medical technology products, there is a great demand for new naturalistic materials suitable for integration with the body. Introducing materials into the body comes with many risks, such as serious infections, among other things. Many of the substances used today, such as Botox, are very toxic. There is a need for new, more adaptable materials.</div> <div>In the new study, the Chalmers researchers developed a material consisting solely of components that have already been shown to work well in the body. </div> <div>The foundation of the material is the same as plexiglass, a material which is common in medical technology applications. Through redesigning its makeup, and through a process called nanostructuring, they gave the newly patented material a unique combination of properties. The researchers' initial intention was to produce a h<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/Anand%20Kumar%20Rajasekharan%20250.jpg" alt="" style="height:147px;width:180px;margin:10px 5px" />ard bone-like material, but they were met with surprising results. </div> <div>“We were really surprised that the material turned to be very soft, flexible and extremely elastic. It would not work as a bone replacement material, we concluded. But the new and unexpected properties made our discovery just as exciting,” says Anand Kumar Rajasekharan, PhD in Materials Science and one of the researchers behind the study.</div> <div>The results showed that the new rubber-like material may be appropriate for many applications which require an uncommon combination of properties – high elasticity, easy processability, and suitability for medical uses. </div> <div>“The first application we are looking at now is urinary catheters. The material can be construct<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/Martin%20Andersson%20172.jpg" alt="" style="height:172px;width:182px;margin:5px" />ed in such a way that prevents bacteria from growing on the surface, meaning it is very well suited for medical uses,” says Martin Andersson, research leader for the study and Professor of Chemistry at Chalmers.</div> <div>The structure of the new nano-rubber material allows its surface to be treated so that it becomes antibacterial, in a natural, non-toxic way. This is achieved by sticking antimicrobial peptides – small proteins which are part of our innate immune system – onto its surface. This can help reduce the need for antibiotics, an important contribution to the fight against growing antibiotic resistance. </div> <div>Because the new material can be injected and inserted via keyhole surgery, it can also help reduce the need for drastic surgery and operations to rebuild parts of the body. The material can be injected via a standard cannula as a viscous fluid, so that it forms its own elastic structures within the body. Or, the material can also be 3D printed into specific structures as required. </div> <div>“There are many diseases where the cartilage breaks down and friction results between bones, causing great pain for the affected person. This material could potentially act as a replacement in those cases,” Martin Andersson continues.</div> <div>A further advantage of the material is that it contains three-dimensionally ordered nanopores. This means it can be loaded with medicine, for various therapeutic purposes such as improving healing and reducing inflammation. This allows for localised treatment, avoiding, for example, having to treat the entire body with drugs, something that could help reduce problems associated with side effects. Since it is non-toxic, it also works well as a filler – the researchers see plastic surgery therefore as another very interesting potential area of application for the new material.</div> <div>“I am now working full time with our newly founded company, Amferia, to get the research out to industry. I have been pleased to see a lot of real interest in our material. It’s promising in terms of achieving our goal, which is to provide real societal benefit,” Anand concludes.</div> <div>Read the study, “<a href="">Tough Ordered Mesoporous Elastomeric Biomaterials Formed at Ambient Conditions</a>” in the scientific journal ACS Nano. </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">The path of the research to societal benefit and commercialisation, through start-up company Amferia and Chalmers Ventures</h3> <div>In order for the discovery of the new material to be useful and commercialised, the researchers patented their innovation before the study was published. The patent is owned by <a href="">start-up company Amferia</a>, which was founded by Martin Andersson and Anand Kumar Rajasekharan, two of the researchers behind the study, as well as researcher Saba Atefyekta who recently completed a PhD in Materials Science at Chalmers. Anand is now CEO of Amferia and will drive the application of the new material and development of the company. </div> <div><a href="">Amferia has previously been noted for an antibacterial wound patch developed by the same team</a>. Amferia now has the innovation of both the new nano-rubber and the antibacterial wound patch. The development of the company and the innovations' path to making profit are now being carried out in collaboration with Chalmers Ventures, a subsidiary of Chalmers University of Technology.</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">More about the research: interdisciplinary collaboration at Chalmers</h3> <div>Several of Chalmers’ departments and disciplines were involved in the study. In addition to researchers at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/Marianne-Liebi.aspx">Marianne Liebi</a>, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics, was a co-author of the article. She has developed a technology to make it possible to investigate the order of materials by means of x-ray irradiation, to see how the nanostructures relate to each other in the material. In the ongoing work, an industrially feasible process for production of the material will be developed. This will be done in collaboration with the Department of Industry and Materials Science.</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">For more information, contact:</h3> <div><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Martin-Andersson.aspx">Martin Andersson</a>, Professor in Chemistry</div> <a href="">Anand Kumar </a><span>Rajasekhara</span>n, PhD in Materials Science and CEO of Amferia <br /><div> </div>Mon, 16 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 on Titan cannot rely on cell membranes, according to computational simulations<p><b>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have made a new contribution to the ongoing search into the possibility of life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Using quantum mechanical calculations, they have shown that azotosomes, a proposed alternative form to conventional cell membranes, could not form under the conditions there. Their research is published in the journal Science Advances.</b></p><p>​Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has a dynamic surface, with seasonal rainfall, and lakes and seas at its polar regions, as well as a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere. These similarities to Earth have led many to consider the possibility of life there. The liquids on Titan are not water, however, but seas of methane and ethane, and the surface temperature is around –180C. Lipid membranes, of the type common to life on Earth, could not function under such conditions. This has led researchers looking for signs of life on Titan to contemplate alternative forms of cell membranes that could tolerate these extremes. One such alternative form, suggested by a team from Cornell University, is called an ‘azotosome’. </p> <p>The idea of azotosomes has gained traction in the field of astrobiology, and it has been shown computationally that such structures would survive the conditions on Titan. The azotosome was proposed to be formed from the organic compound acrylonitrile – which was later confirmed to exist on Titan.</p> <p>“Titan is a fascinating place to test our understanding of the limits of prebiotic chemistry – the chemistry that precedes life. What chemical, or possibly biological, structures might form, given enough time under such different conditions? The suggestion of azotosomes was a really interesting proposal for an alternative to cell membranes as we understand them,” says Martin Rahm, Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology.</p> <p>“But our new research paper shows that, unfortunately, although the structure could indeed tolerate the extremes of Titan, it would not form in the first place,” he explains. </p> <p>Using advanced quantum mechanical calculations, the researchers compared the energy of the proposed azotosome membrane embedded in methane with that of the molecular crystal form of acrylonitrile – its molecular ice. They discovered that each building block added to the azotosome increased its energy significantly, making its formation progressively less likely thermodynamically. They conclude therefore that while azotosomes could survive on Titan, they would not self-assemble under such conditions. Instead, acrylonitrile would crystallise into its molecular ice. </p> <p>Despite the ‘negative’ results of their work, Martin Rahm sees the study, which was done together with PhD student Hilda Sandström, as providing highly valuable information for ongoing research in astrobiology. </p> <p>“With this work we hope to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the limits of chemistry and biology in environmental extremes. Though we have shown that acrylonitrile is not a viable building block for workable cell membranes on Titan, we now have a better understanding of the environmental limits for cell membranes. Titan is a highly interesting and unique environment with many unanswered questions and possibilities left to explore,” he explains. </p> <p>Their work is also an important step forward in demonstrating the potential of computational astrobiology, which offers the chance to evaluate, prior to experiments or sampling, whether or not a particular structure or process might be a biosignature, a marker for potential biology.</p> <p>Interest in astrobiology on Titan is very high in the scientific community – so much so that in 2026, NASA will launch the billion-dollar Dragonfly spacecraft, which will make the 8-year journey to Titan to investigate its surface. It will spend around 3 years flying to different locations around the moon, assessing the conditions for habitability, prebiotic chemistry, and looking for signs of past and present life. </p> <p>Read the article “<a href="">Can polarity-inverted membranes self-assemble on Titan</a>?” in the journal Science Advances. </p> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">The likelihood of life on Titan and other similar worlds </h3> <div>While stressing that life under the extreme conditions found on Titan and other such worlds is highly unlikely, the researchers do, however, consider another possibility. They hypothesise that perhaps cell membranes are not a necessity for life everywhere, as we see they are on our Earth. </div> <div>One crucial function of cell membranes on Earth is to protect the contents of a cell from being diluted and destroyed in larger bodies of liquid water. However, on the surface of Titan, any hypothetical life-bearing biomolecule would exist in the solid state, due to the low temperature, and never risk such destruction by dissolution. </div> <p>Because hypothetical biomolecules on Titan would be immobile, they would need to rely on the diffusion of small energetic molecules, such as hydrogen gas or acetylene, to reach them before they could grow or replicate. Such molecules would need to be transported through the surrounding atmosphere or through liquid hydrocarbons, and a membrane would, in this case, hinder the desired diffusion. A membrane would likely be a similar obstacle in the opposite direction, for the necessary removal of waste products from the biomolecule’s metabolism.</p> <p>“One can therefore ask what the benefit would be from having cell membranes under such different conditions?” explains Martin Rahm. </p> <p>For more information, contact: <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/rahmma.aspx">Martin Rahm</a><br /></p>Mon, 02 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 projects from the chemistry department at IVA&#39;s 100 list<p><b>​The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering presented its 100 list 2020. 94 research projects that especially contribute to sustainable growth, have been nominated and selected among all Swedish educational institutions. Four of these are related to the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.</b></p><div>​Research leaders for the selected projects are Kasper Moth-Poulsen (Professor Chemistry and Chemical Engineering), Hanna de la Motte (Project Manager at RISE and Visiting Researcher in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering) and Anders Palmqvist (Professor, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Vice President at Chalmers).</div> <div> </div> <div>Further down in this article they comment on their projects, including how these projects contribute to the 100-list goals - research projects that contribute to sustainable growth and increase collaboration between research and companies in order to transform academic research into competitiveness. There are also the names of the projects and links to further information.<br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Nanocatalytic Systems - Scalable Production of Structured Nanoparticles<img width="340" height="400" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/IVA/KasperMoth-Poulsen_340%20x%20400_2018.jpg" alt="" style="height:186px;width:158px;margin:5px" /></h3> <div>Research leader: Kasper Moth-Poulsen<br />Read more about <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/kasper-moth-poulsen.aspx">Kasper Moth-Poulsen</a></div> <div>Nanoparticles with special structure and shape have unique catalytic properties. In this project we have developed a scalable method for synthesizing structured nanoparticles that can be used in the future fuel cells and chemical industry. <br />Kasper Moth-Poulsen </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Molecular Thermal Solar Energy System - New materials for energy efficient buildings</h3> <div>Research leader: Kasper Moth-Poulsen.</div> <div>Read more about <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/kasper-moth-poulsen.aspx">Kasper Moth-Poulsen</a></div> <div>The molecular energy system is a molecule that absorbs the sun's light and transforms it into another molecule that stores the energy. It then releases the stored energy during parts of the day that the sun does not shine, for example evening and night. In this way, the temperature can be evened out in buildings and windows during a day, which gives an improved indoor climate and reduced energy consumption. <br />Kasper Moth-Poulsen</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">From textiles to dissolving pulp, again - Process solutions for textile recycling in the Swedish forest industry</h3> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/IVA/Hanna%20de%20la%20Motte_340x400_RISE%202020.jpg" alt="" style="height:186px;width:158px;margin:5px" />Research leader: Hanna de la Motte (project manager at RISE) image creadit RISE, the group consists of Hans Theliander (professor, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Chalmers) Harald Brelid, Anna Palme and Helena Claesson (Southern Innovation) </div> <div><a href="">Read more about the project</a></div> <div>In this research process solutions for recycling textile mixtures of cellulose and polyester that are compatible with the Swedish forest industry are developed. We need to become more circular in our material use. Our research benefits the business community by offering process solutions for recycling textiles, and with it a more sustainable management of textile residual waste.</div> <div>The project started within the research program Mistra Future Fashion, first as a doctoral project at Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers and then through degree projects and a postdoc project. The results of the work inspired Södra Innovation to develop its OnceMore (TM) process, which has demonstrated the recycling of 30 tonnes of mixed textiles, with the aim of a capacity of 25000 tonnes. <br />Hanna de la Motte</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Celcibus - Precious metal-free fuel cell catalyst - Durable, cheap and enabling alternative to platinum.</h3> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/IVA/AndersPalmqvist%20340%20x%20400_2019.jpg" alt="" style="height:186px;width:158px;margin:5px" />Research leader: Anders Palmqvist. </div> <div>Read more about <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Anders-Palmqvist.aspx">Anders Palmqvist</a></div> <div>Fuel cells are powered by hydrogen and can supplement batteries for the operation of electric vehicles and in other applications. We have developed a precious metal-free catalyst for fuel cells to replace the expensive and rare precious metal platinum on which today's fuel cells depend on. Estimations show that when the fuel cell vehicle market is picking up, almost half the cost of the fuel cell will be the cost of platinum. By completely excluding the precious metal from the catalytic converter, the potential for cost savings are huge. A well-functioning precious metal-free catalyst has the potential to accelerate the establishment of the hydrogen gas community and the conversion to a sustainable energy system.</div> <div>The catalyst is patent protected in seven countries and the company Celcibus AB was established in 2019 for further development and commercialization. The goal is to offer the market a cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel cell based on the catalyst. Through collaboration with three commercial international companies, we are now developing a first full-scale fuel cell stack prototype to demonstrate its performance in a real product. Celcibus participates in InnoEnergy's Highway program and is now planning for recruitment and establishment of capacity for development, testing and sales of the catalytic converter and for cooperation agreements with strategic partners. Globally, the fuel cell market is now developing rapidly, one of the challenges is to reach the international market. <br />Anders Palmqvist</div> <div> </div> <div> </div>Mon, 02 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 opportunities for materials research at Chalmers<p><b>The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) has decided to extend the funding of the SwedNess research school by 100 million SEK until 2025.</b></p><div><div><span></span><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial">SwedNess is a graduate school for neutron scattering operated by six Swedish Universities, including Chalmers.</span><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The goal is to educate 20 doctoral students as a base for Sweden's expertise in neutron scattering with respect to the research infrastructure European Spalliation Source (ESS) being built outside Lund right now. </span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Jan%20Swenson.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;height:100px;width:100px" /><div>&quot;It is important to strengthen the competence in neutron scattering at Chalmers in order to remain successful in materials research and to benefit from ESS,&quot; says Professor Jan Swenson at the Department of Physics at Chalmers, who is SwedNess'  Director of Studies at Chalmers.  </div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/sv/institutioner/fysik/nyheter/Sidor/Nya-mojligheter-for-materialforskningen-pa-Chalmers.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Read a longer article on Chalmers' Swedish homepage. </a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href=""><span><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></span>Read more about SwedNess. ​</a></div> <div></div>Fri, 07 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0100 in the brain shows unexpected qualities<p><b>​Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University in Sweden have achieved something long thought almost impossible – counting the molecules of the neurotransmitter glutamate released when a signal is transferred between two brain cells. With a new analysis method, they showed that the brain regulates its signals using glutamate in more ways than previously realised.</b></p><div>​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Glutamat/AnnSofieCans_340%20x400.png" alt="" style="height:252px;width:245px;margin:5px" />The ability to measure the activity and quantity of glutamate in brain cells has been long sought-after among researchers. Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Despite its abundance, and its influence on many important functions, we know a lot less about it than other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, because so far glutamate has been difficult to measure quickly enough. <p> </p> <p>The new findings around glutamate are therefore very significant and could help improve our understanding of the pathologies underlying neurological and psychiatric diseases and conditions. The relationship between glutamate and these disorders, as well as our memory, our appetite and more, are just some of the questions which the researchers’ newly discovered technology could help answer.</p> <p>“When we started, everybody said ‘this will never work’. But we didn’t give in. Now we have a beautiful example of how multi-disciplinary basic science can yield major breakthroughs, and deliver real benefit,” says Ann-Sofie Cans, Associate Professor in Chemistry at Chalmers and leader of the research group.</p> <p>The key was to do the opposite of what had been previously attempted. Instead of using a biosensor made from thick layers, they used an ultrathin layer of the enzyme needed for biological identification. The researchers made it so that the enzyme, which was placed on a nano-structured sensor surface, was just a molecule thick. This made the sensor technology a thousand times faster than previous attempts. </p> <p>The technique was therefore fast enough to measure the release of glutamate from a single synaptic vesicle – the small liquid vessel which releases neurotransmitters to the synapse between two nerve cells. This is a process that occurs in less than a thousandth of a second. </p> <p>“When we saw the benefits of improving the sensor technology in terms of time, instead of concentration, then we got it to work” says Ann-Sofie Cans. </p></div> <div>The research was carried out in two steps. In the first, the breakthrough was being able to measure glutamate. That study was published early in Spring 2019 in the scientific journal ASC Chemical Neuroscience. In the second part, which the current publication addresses, Ann-Sofie Cans and her research group made further important adjustments and ground-breaking discoveries. <p> </p> <p>“Once we had built the sensor, we could then refine it further. Now, with the help of this technology we have also developed a new method to quantify these small amounts of glutamate,” she explains. </p> <p>Along the way the group had many interesting surprises. For example, the quantity of glutamate in a synaptic vesicle has been revealed to be much greater than previously believed. It is comparable in quantity to serotonin and dopamine, a finding which came as an exciting surprise.</p> <p>“Our study changes the current understanding of glutamate. For example, it seems that transport and storage of glutamate in synaptic vesicles is not as different as we thought, when compared with other neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine”, says Ann-Sofie Cans.</p> <p>The researchers also showed that nerve cells control the strength of their chemical signals by regulating the quantity of glutamate released from single synaptic vesicles.</p> <p>The fact we can now measure and quantify this neurotransmitter can yield new tools for pharmacological studies in many vital areas in neuroscience.</p> <p>“The level of measurement offered by this ultra-fast glutamate sensor opens up countless possibilities to truly understand the function of glutamate in health and disease. Our knowledge of the brain function, and dysfunction, is limited by the experimental tools we have, and this new ultra-fast tool will allow us to examine neuronal communication at a level we did not have access to before”, says Karolina Patrycja Skibicka, Associate Professor in Neuroscience and Physiology at Gothenburg University.</p> <p>“The new finding, that glutamate-based communication is regulated by the quantity of glutamate released from synaptic vesicles, begs the question of what happens to this regulation in brain diseases thought to be linked to glutamate, for example epilepsy.”</p></div> <div> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">More information on glutamate and glutamic acid </h3> <div>Glutamate, or glutamic acid, is found in proteins in food. It occurs naturally in meat, in almost all vegetables, and in wheat and soy. It is also used as a food additive to enhance flavours, for example in the form of MSG, or monosodium glutamate. <p> </p> <p>Glutamate is an amino acid, and an important part of our body. It is also a neurotransmitter which nerve cells use to communicate, and forms the basis for some of the brain's basic functions such as cognition, memory and learning. It is also important for the immune system, the function of the gastrointestinal tract, and to prevent microorganisms from entering the body.</p></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Source: Swedish Food Agency and Chalmers University of Technology</div> <a href=""><div> </div></a><div> </div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">For more information</h3> <div><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/ann-sofie-cans.aspx">Ann-Sofie Cans</a>, Associate Professor in Chemistry, Chalmers University of Technology</div> <div><a href="">Karolina Patrycja Skibicka</a>, Associate Professor in Neuroscience and Physiology at Gothenburg University</div> <div><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">More on the research</h3> <div>The study, <a href="">Counting the Number of Glutamate Molecules in Single Synaptic Vesicles</a> has been published in the scientific publication Journal of the American Chemical Society. <p> </p> <p>The research has been funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Brain Foundation, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Wallenberg Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, Ernst and Fru Rådman Colliander Stiftelse, Wilhelm and Martina Lundgren Stiftelse and Magnus Bergvall Stiftelse.</p></div> <div> </div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div>Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100öran Wallberg Grant to Maria Siiskonen<p><b>​​
Congratulations to Maria Siiskonen, who was awarded a grant of SEK 50,000 from the Chalmers Foundation and Göran Wallberg&#39;s Memorial Fund in 2019, which will give funding for a four-month stay in Copenhagen, Denmark.</b></p><br /><div>
The Chalmers alum Göran Wallberg (VV-45) generously donated 2 million with the aim of helping students and younger researchers to gain international experience during their studies. The grant covers the areas of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), Production Technology and Environmental Technology.
</div> <div>&quot;It's a very nice Christmas present,&quot; says Maria Siiskonen, PhD student at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science, Chalmers. “I will use the grant for a research stay at the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, to learn more about adaptable manufacturing systems for personalized medicines.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>
Looking for solutions
</strong></div> <div>Maria Siiskonen's previous research has focused on product design and how different functionalities can be incorporated into medicines, for example in tablets. It makes it possible to adapt the medicine to the needs of the individual patient and thus optimize patients' treatments against a number of different diseases. 
</div> <div>A consequence from product customization is the accelerating number of product variants and previous studies indicate that current pharmaceutical production systems are not flexible enough to enable production of customized product in an economically feasible manner.
 </div> <div>“I want to take a closer look at how the production systems for individualized medicines to find how they should be designed, both from an economic and sustainable perspective. My focus will be on the adaptability and flexibility of the systems to meet the demand for patient-adapted product variants.”

 </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Strong research at DTU attracts
</strong></div> <div>Maria explains that DTU's research group has a good reputation in the research area, in terms of the field of product customization and strategic approaches to product portfolio design.</div> <div>“Being here for a couple of months, will give me excellent opportunities to get a first-hand insight into their methods, discover new tools and hopefully get optimized product development methods to bring home with me. I think this will be an excellent opportunity to develop as a researcher”, concludes Maria.

</div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><a href="" target="_blank" title="link to new webpage"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read more of Maria Siiskonens research​</a></span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><em>Text: Carina Schultz / Maria Siiskonen
</em></div> <div><em>Photo: Carina Schultz</em></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div>Thu, 16 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100 researchers hunt for new resources in the forest<p><b>​Wallenberg Wood Science Center researches into possibilities to create new, hi-tech materials from trees, beyond the traditional cellulose fibres. The center involves 15 researchers at 5 departments and helps lay the foundations for successful research. And it is just starting to kick into a higher gear.</b></p><div><em>The researchers involved in the center is listed in the end of the article</em>.</div> <div>Transparent wood from nanocellulose, flame-resistant cellulose foams for isolation, and plastic-like packaging materials  made of hemicellulose – just some examples of new, wood-based material concepts developed in Sweden which have made headlines in recent years. Bio-based batteries and solar cells, and artificial ‘wood’ which can be 3D printed are others which have caught the collective imagination. But something maybe less well-known is the fact that most of these ideas are the result of one forward-thinking research programme, launched over ten years ago – Wallenberg Wood Science Center.<br /><br /></div> <div>When the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation announced a funding investment of close to half a billion kronor, Chalmers and KTH first set themselves as competitors. But on the initiative of the Foundation, they became collaborative partners instead. And several years before the programme was even complete, a programme for extension was sketched out, for scaling up and broadening. Within a year, WWSC 2.0 was launched, to last until 2028. Linköping University will now take part as well, and industrial partners are also involved in financing via the research platform, Treesearch. The Chalmers Foundation will also contribute with more research money. In total, over a billion kronor will be invested in forestry related material research in the coming decade, with an interdisciplinary approach combining biotechnology, material science and physical chemistry.</div> <div> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Delivering important competence </h3> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/WWSC/Lisbeth%20200.png" alt="" style="margin:5px" />Lisbeth Olsson, Professor in Industrial Biotechnology, is Vice Director  of WWSC, and is responsible for Chalmers’ research within the programme. When she looks over what the research center has already delivered, it is not those headline-generating new materials that she sees as the principal contributions. <br />“I would probably say that the most important thing the WWSC has given the forestry industry is competence. Many doctoral students and postdocs from the programme have gone onto employment in the industry,” she says.  </div> <div>  <br />This increased knowledge around foundational questions has clearly contributed to the fact that the forest industry today is a lot more future-oriented. When WWSC began in 2008, research was, according to Lisbeth Olsson, still very traditional, focused on the pulp and paper industry.<br /><span>“Today, we instead define materials by what molecular properties they have. We discuss these things in a totally different way. So even if the industry in large part produces the same paper, packaging materials and hygiene products as ten years ago, there’s a molecular perspective on the future.”</span></div> <div> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">All the parts of a tree can be better utilised</h3> <div>What drives these developments is the goal of a more sustainable society, and a phase-out of fossil fuels. With this environmental perspective there is also an increased demand on material and energy effectiveness. In the long term, this means that it is not sustainable – even with a renewable resource – to destroy or waste potentially valuable components of wood. Which, in many respects, is what the traditional pulp industry does today, when considering lignin. </div> <div>“An essential idea within WWSC is to make better use of all the different parts of trees. The vision is to create some kind of bio-refinery for material,” says Lisbeth Olsson. <br />  </div> <div>Until now, research has been largely focused on new ways of using cellulose, for example in the form of nanocellulose, as well as investigating the potential of hemicellulose – such as recycling polymers to create dense layers or using it as a constituent part of composite materials. <br /><span>“As research continues, we will also devote a lot more energy to looking at lignin, which with its aromatic compounds has a totally different chemistry. One idea is to carbonise the molecules to give them electrical properties,” says Lisbeth Olsson.<br /></span><span><br />When not busy with leading Chalmers’ activities within WWSC, which involves 5 different departments and around 15 researchers, she spends most of her time on her own research. Together with her colleagues, Lisbeth Olsson is investigating how enzymes and microorganisms can be used to separate and modify the constituent parts of trees – before reassembling them into materials with new, smart qualities.</span></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">First, a need for understanding at a deeper level </h3> <div>We leave the office and go downstairs to the industrial biotechnology laboratory for a quick tour among the petri dishes and fermentation vessels. Of around 40 employees, 5 work here full time, deriving materials from trees’ raw parts. <br />  </div> <div>​“We look a lot at how different fungi from the forest break down wood, which enzymes they use. We can also ‘tweak’ the enzymes, so that they, for example, make a surface modification instead of breaking a chemical bond ,” says Lisbeth Olsson, adding that they are even investigating examples such as heat resistant wood fungi from Vietnamese forests.</div> <div> </div> <div>“When we find some interesting ability in a filamentous mushroom, for example, we can use genetic techniques to extract that ability to bacteria or yeast. That can then produce the same enzyme at a larger scale.”<br />  </div> <div>A difficulty with a natural material like wood is its particularly heterogenous and complex makeup. To be able to understand what is happening at a deep level, researchers must study different cycles at different scales simultaneously – from micrometres down to fractions of a nanometre. Lisbeth Olsson and her colleagues are not yet down to that level of detail that is really needed. <br />  </div> <div>“We have a model of what we think trees look like. But we don’t really know for sure,” she explains. </div> <div> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Big investment opens up new possibilities</h3> <div>But soon, new possibilities will arise. The Wallenberg Foundation and Treesearch will together invest up to 200 billion kronor in building and operating a proprietary particle beam at the synchrotron facility Max IV outside Lund. The instrument, named Formax, could be compared to an extremely powerful x-ray microscope, and is specifically designed for tree-related material research. It will be ready for the first test experiments from 2021. <br />  </div> <div>But if the researchers have now identified a number of potent enzymes which could contribute to innovative <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/WWSC/Tuve%20200.png" alt="" style="margin:5px" />biomaterials, how do they really dig down into wood’s structure at the smallest level? <br /><br /></div> <div>One possible answer is found a few more flights of stairs down in the Chemistry building, where the Division of Forest Products and Chemical Engineering is based. Here, research assistant Tuve Mattsson, with one of the division’s doctoral students, has just carried out a small steam explosion of a ring of wood chips. The method, in brief, involves soaked wood chips being trapped in a pressure vessel, before steam is pumped in. The temperature and pressure greatly increase, before the valve suddenly opens. Bang! Water in the wood starts to boil and expand and bursts the wood from the inside.<br /><br /></div> <div>“To the naked eye, the chip pieces are quite similar – they just change colour. But look at them in a scanning electron microscope, and you see quite clearly how the structures have opened themselves up, just a little,” says Tuve Mattsson. </div> <div>“We don’t want to break down the wood too much. Then you lose the effectivity both in terms of materials and energy” adds Lisbeth Olsson. “This could be a future processing stage to make it milder, more enzymatic methods possible in industry. Such methods are also a prerequisite to being able to realise another key vision of WWSC – that new materials should be able to be recirculated without losing their value.” </div> <div>“This is a big challenge for the future. When a product has outlived its purpose, you should be able to extract the different material components and build them together in a new way, to create something of equal quality,” says Lisbeth Olsson. </div> <div>“If we succeed with that, then that thought process must be present from the beginning.”</div> <div><br /> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Chalmers researchers within WWSC</h3> <div>Chemistry and chemical technology: <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/anette-larsson.aspx">Anette Larsson</a>, <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Christian-Müller.aspx">Christian Müller</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/gunnar-westman.aspx">Gunnar Westman</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/hans-theliander.aspx">Hans Theliander</a>, <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/Lars-Nordstierna.aspx">Lars Nordstierna</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/merima-hasani.aspx">Merima Hasani</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/paul-gatenholm.aspx">Paul Gatenholm</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/nypelo.aspx">Tiina Nypelö</a> and <a href="/en/staff/Pages/tuve-mattsson.aspx">Tuve Mattsson</a></div> <div>Biology and biological sciences: <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/johan-larsbrink.aspx">Johan Larsbrink</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/lisbeth-olsson.aspx">Lisbeth Olsson</a></div> <div>Physics: <a href="/en/staff/Pages/Aleksandar-Matic.aspx">Aleksandar Matic</a>, <a href="/en/staff/Pages/Eva-Olsson.aspx">Eva Olsson</a>, <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/Marianne-Liebi.aspx">Marianne Liebi</a></div> <div>Industrial and materials science: <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/roland-kadar.aspx">Roland Kádár </a></div> <div>Microtechnology and nanoscience: <a href="/en/staff/Pages/Peter-Enoksson.aspx">Peter Enoksson</a></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Mimicking wood’s ultrastructure with 3D printing</h3> <div><strong>Porous, strong and rigid. Wood is a fantastic material. Now, researchers at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center have succeeded in utilising the genetic code of the wood to instruct a 3D bioprinter to print cellulose with a cellular structure and properties similar to those of natural wood, but in completely new forms.</strong></div> <div>Read the full article here: <a href="/en/departments/chem/news/Pages/Mimicking-the-ultrastructure-of-wood-with-3D-printing-for-green-products.aspx"></a>  </div> <div> </div>Wed, 08 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100 pilot plant an important step towards large-scale battery recycling<p><b>​The Swedish company Northvolt is investing in environmentally friendly lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and energy storage. Within the framework of the Revolt recycling program, Northvolt is collaborating with Chalmers University of Technology, and soon, their first pilot plant for recycling lithium-ion batteries will open.</b></p><p>​Recycling batteries reduces the need to extract new raw materials, such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt. It also provides a safer supply of materials and lowers environmental impacts, as mining-related emissions can be reduced. Martina Petranikova works as a research assistant at the Department of Chemistry and, together with Cristian Tunsu, has led Chalmers’ collaboration with Northvolt.</p> <p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Picture of Martina Petranikova" src="/SiteCollectionImages/20190701-20191231/Martina%20och%20Cristian%20300%20ppi-5.jpg" style="height:270px;width:310px;margin:30px 10px" /><br /><strong>What quantity of the valuable metals in a battery is </strong><strong>now recyclable?</strong><br />“With our technology we have reached an efficiency of over 90-95 percent. However, our research in this topic will continue since we want to reach even higher recycling recovery rates for all the components.”</p> <p><br /><strong>Is there any price difference in recycling metals compared to mining new ones?</strong><br />“The cost of mining new metals and recycling is fairly similar. The difference is that metals in waste are much more concentrated, so much less processing and transport is required. In addition, the waste treatment is less energy demanding than the treatment of the ores.”</p> <p><br /><strong>Is there any limit to how many times the metal in a lithium-ion battery can be recycled?</strong><br />“No, there is not. An amazing characteristic of these metals is that if they are recovered and purified, they will not lose their properties and can be re-used again and again.”</p> <p><br />The pilot plant, located in Västerås, will serve as a platform for developing and evaluating recycling processes. Initially, 100 tonnes per year are expected to be recycled. Two years later, in 2022, a full-scale recycling plant at Northvolt Ett gigafactory in northern Sweden will be ready, with a capacity to recycle a full 25,000 tonnes per year. As logistics and capacity increase, Northvolt aims to have their batteries made of 50 per cent recycled materials by 2030.</p> <p><br /><strong>What challenges do you see in recycling as much as 68.5 tonnes per day?</strong><br />“There should not be any challenges with the recycling. There might be some challenges in collecting so much material in the coming years, but that will change in the future.”</p> <p><br /><strong>What is the next step in the collaboration with Northvolt?</strong><br />“We will continue in our collaboration and we will provide the support needed for Northvolt to scale up their recycling lines. We really appreciate our co-operation with Northvolt and we are proud that our expertise in hydrometallurgy, and particularly in solvent extraction, has been utilised for such a unique project. Chalmers strives for sustainability, and our research has contributed to improved sustainability in Sweden and the Nordic region.</p> <p> </p> <p><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read Northvolt's press release</a><br /><a href="/sv/institutioner/chem/nyheter/Sidor/Forskarna-som-löser-Northvolts-tillgång-på-råvaror.aspx"><img width="16" height="16" class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read more about the Chalmers researchers who solve Northvolt's supply of raw materials (in Swedish)</a></p> <p> </p> <p>Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg​</p>Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100 material for carbon dioxide capture<p><b>​In a joint research study from Sweden, scientists from Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University have developed a new material for capturing carbon dioxide. The new material offers many benefits – it is sustainable, has a high capture rate, and has low operating costs. The research has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials &amp; Interfaces.</b></p><p>​Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology that attracts a lot of attention and debate. Large investments and initiatives are underway from politicians and industry alike, to capture carbon dioxide emissions and tackle climate change. So far, the materials and processes involved have been associated with significant negative side effects and high costs. But now, new research from Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University in Sweden has demonstrated the possibility of a sustainable, low-cost alternative with excellent, selective carbon dioxide-capturing properties. </p> <p>The new material is a bio-based hybrid foam, infused with a high amount of CO2-adsorbing ‘zeolites’ – microporous aluminosilicates. This material has been shown to have very promising properties. The porous, open structure of the material gives it a great ability to adsorb the carbon dioxide.</p> <p><img width="250" height="195" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Walter%20250.png" alt="" style="height:189px;width:202px;margin:5px" />“In the new material, we took zeolites, which have excellent capabilities for capturing carbon dioxide, and combined them with gelatine and cellulose, which has strong mechanical properties. Together, this makes a durable, lightweight, stable material with a high reusability. Our research has shown that the cellulose does not interfere with the zeolites’ ability to adsorb carbon dioxide. The cellulose and zeolites together therefore create an environmentally friendly, affordable material,” says <a href="/en/staff/Pages/arbelaez.aspx">Walter Rosas Arbelaez</a>, PhD student at Chalmers' Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and one of the researchers behind the study.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><strong>Fits well with the ongoing developments within CCS and CCU</strong><br />The researchers’ work has yielded important knowledge and points the way for further development of sustainable carbon capture technology. Currently, the leading CCS technology uses ‘amines’, suspended in a solution. This method has several problems – amines are inherently environmentally unfriendly, larger and heavier volumes are required, and the solution causes corrosion in pipes and tanks. Additionally, a lot of energy is required to separate the captured carbon dioxide from the amine solution for reuse. The material now presented avoids all of these problems. In future applications, filters of various kinds could be easily manufactured.<img width="500" height="478" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Anders%20500.png" alt="" style="height:194px;width:205px;margin:5px" /></p> <p>“This research fits well with the ongoing developments within CCS and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilisation) technology, as a sustainable alternative with great potential. In addition to bio-based materials being more environmentally friendly, the material is a solid – once the carbon dioxide has been captured, it is therefore easier and more efficient to separate it than from the liquid amine solutions,” says <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Anders-Palmqvist.aspx">Professor Anders Palmqvist</a>, research leader for the study at Chalmers.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><strong>Overcoming a difficult obstacle – vital breakthrough </strong><br />Zeolites have been proposed for carbon capture for a long time, but so far, the obstacle has been that ordinary, larger zeolite particles are difficult to work with when they are processed and implemented in different applications. This has prevented them from being optimally used. But the way the zeolite particles have been prepared this time – as smaller particles in a suspension – means they can be readily incorporated in and supported by the highly porous cellulose foam. Overcoming this obstacle has been a vital breakthrough of the current study. </p> <p>“What surprised us most was that it was possible to fill the foam with such a high proportion of zeolites. When we reached 90% by weight, we realized that we had achieved something exceptional. We see our results as a very interesting piece of the puzzle in the search for a solution to the complex challenge of being able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere quickly enough to meet climate goals,” says Walter Rosas Arbelaez.</p> <p><br />Read the article, <a href="">Bio-based Micro-/Meso-/Macroporous Hybrid Foams with Ultrahigh Zeolite Loadings for Selective Capture of Carbon Dioxide </a>in the journal ACS Applied Materials &amp; Interfaces. </p> <p>    </p> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/blomma.png" alt="" style="height:213px;width:235px;margin:5px" /><p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>A sample of the new material resting on a flower, demonstrating its extremely low weight<br /><br /></p> <p><strong></strong> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>For more information, contact:</strong><br /><a href="/en/staff/Pages/arbelaez.aspx">Walter Rosas Arbelaez</a><br />PhD student, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology<br />0765609973</p> <div><br /><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Anders-Palmqvist.aspx">Anders Palmqvist</a><br />Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology<br />031 772 29 61</div> <div><br /><strong>Managing captured carbon dioxide </strong></div> <div>After capture, the carbon dioxide can then be stored (CCS) or converted in a reaction (CCU). The latter is undergoing interesting and promising parallel research at Chalmers right now to enable the conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol. The results need further evaluation and comparison with other conversion methods. </div> <div> </div> <div><strong>More information about the research:</strong><br />The two main authors, doctoral students Walter Rosas from Chalmers University of Technology and Luis Valencia from Stockholm University, met within an EU project and started collaborating. The aim of their research has been to investigate the combination of a very porous biomaterial that can be manufactured at a low cost, with the specific function of the zeolite to adsorb/capture carbon dioxide. The research showed that microporous (&lt;2 nm) crystalline aluminosilicates – ‘zeolites’ – made with small particle size (&lt;200 nm), could be readily supported by the biomaterial and thereby offer great potential as effective adsorbents for atmospheric carbon dioxide.<br />In the study, the researchers managed to overcome the difficult-to-handle properties that ordinary larger zeolite particles have, an obstacle which has until now made them difficult to implement in this type of application. The key was that the smaller particles could be combined with a meso- and macroporous support material based on a foam of gelatin and nanocellulose, which could then contain ultra-high amounts of the zeolite without losing too much of its strong mechanical network properties. Up to 90% by weight of zeolite content could be achieved, giving the material a very good ability to selectively adsorb carbon dioxide in combination with a very open pore structure, enabling high gas flows. The zeolite used was of the type silicalite-1 and can be seen as a model that can be replaced by other zeolites if needed.<br /></div> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>Text: Jenny Jernberg <br />Translation: Joshua Worth <br />Illustration: Yen Strandqvist </p>Mon, 09 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100 at the end of the nanotunnel for catalysts of the future<p><b>Using a new type of nanoreactor, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have succeeded in mapping catalytic reactions on individual metallic nanoparticles. Their work could help improve chemical processes, and lead to better catalysts and more environmentally friendly chemical technology. The results are published in the journal Nature Communications. ​​​</b></p><div><div><span style="background-color:initial">Catalysts increase the rate of chemical reactions. </span><span style="background-color:initial">They play a vital role in many important industrial processes, from making fuels to medicines, to helping limit harmful vehicle emissions.</span><span style="background-color:initial"> They are also essential building blocks for new, sustainable technologies like fuel cells, where electricity is generated through a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen. Catalysts can also contribute to breaking down environmental toxins, through cleaning water of poisonous chemicals, for example. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>To design more effective catalysts for the future, fundamental knowledge is needed, such as understanding catalysis at the level of individual active catalytic particles. <span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>To visualise the problem of understanding catalytic reactions today, imagine a crowd at a football match, where a number of spectators light up flares. The smoke spreads rapidly through the crowd, and once a smoke cloud has formed, it is almost impossible to say who actually lit the flares, or how powerfully each one is burning. The chemical reactions in catalysis occur in a comparable way. Millions of individual particles are involved, and it is currently very difficult to track and determine the roles of each specific one – how effective they are, how much each has contributed to the reaction. <span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>To better understand the catalytic process, it is necessary to investigate it at the level of individual nanoparticles. The new nanoreactor has allowed the Chalmers researchers to do exactly this. The reactor consists of around 50 glass nanotunnels filled with liquid, arranged in parallel. In each tunnel the researchers placed a single gold nanoparticle. Though they are of similar size, each nanoparticle has varied catalytic qualities – some are highly effective, others decidedly less optimal. To be able to discern how size and nanostructure influence catalysis, the researchers measured catalysis on the particles individually. <span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/Sune%20Levin_foto_Kristofer%20Jakobsson%20350x305.jpg" alt="" style="margin:1px 10px;width:200px;height:174px" /><div>“We sent into the nanotunnels two types of molecules, which react with each other. One molecule type is fluorescent and emits light. The light is only extinguished when it meets a partner of the second type on the surface of the nanoparticles, and a chemical reaction between the molecules occurs. Observing this extinction of the ’light at the end of the nanotunnel’, downstream of the nanoparticles, allowed us to track and measure the efficiency of each nanoparticle at catalysing the chemical reaction,” says Sune Levin, Doctoral Student at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology, and lead author of the scientific article.<span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div>He carried out the experiments under the supervision of Professors Fredrik Westerlund and Christoph Langhammer. The new nanoreactor is a result of a broad collaboration between researchers at several different departments at Chalmers.</div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/Fredrik%20Westerlund_foto_Peter_Sandin_350x305.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:200px;height:174px" /><div><br /> <span style="background-color:initial">“Effective catalysis is essential for both the synthesis and decomposition of chemicals. For example, catalysts are necessary for manufacturing plastics, medicines, and fuels in the best way, and effectively breaking down environmental toxins,” says Fredrik Westerlund, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology.</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>Developing better catalyst materials is necessary for a sustainable future and there are big social and economic gains to be made. <span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/ChristophLanghammerfarg350x305.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px 8px;width:200px;height:174px" /><div>“In the chemical industry for example, making certain processes just a few per cent more effective could translate to significantly increased revenue, as well as drastically reduced environmental impacts,” says research project leader Christoph Langhammer, Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. </div></div> <div> </div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read the scientific article.​​</a><br /></div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read the press release and download high resolution images.​​​​</a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><br /></div> <div><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-weight:700;background-color:transparent">Text: </span><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:initial">Joshua Worth,</span><a href=""></a><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:initial">​ and </span><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:transparent">Mia Halleröd Palmgren, </span><a href=""></a><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:transparent"> ​</span><br /></div> <div> <a href=""></a></div> <div><strong>Photos:</strong> Kristofer Jakobsson (Sune Levin), Peter Sandin (Fredrik Westerlund) och Henrik Sandsjö (Christoph Langhammer). <span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span style="font-family:inherit;background-color:initial">For more information, contact: </span><br /></h2> <div><strong><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/fredrik-westerlund.aspx">Fredrik Westerlund​</a></strong>, <span style="background-color:initial">Professor at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology, </span><span style="background-color:initial">+ 46 31 772 30 49, </span><a href=""></a></div> <div> </div> <div><strong><a href="/en/staff/Pages/Sune-Levin.aspx">Sune Levin</a></strong>, <span style="background-color:initial">Doctoral Student, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">+ 46 76 242 92 68, </span><a href=""> </a></div> <div> </div> <div><strong><a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/Christoph-Langhammer.aspx">Christoph Langhammer</a></strong>, <span style="background-color:initial">Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, </span><span style="background-color:initial">+46 31 772 33 31, </span><a href="">​</a></div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More on the res​earch behind the discovery: </h2> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The scientific article</span> <a href="">&quot;A nanofluidic device for parallel single nanoparticle catalysis in solution&quot; </a><span style="background-color:initial">was published in Nature Communications. It was written by Sune Levin, Joachim Fritzsche, Sara Nilsson, August Runemark, Bhausaheb Dhokale, Henrik Ström, Henrik Sundén, Christoph Langhammer and Fredrik Westerlund. The researchers are active in the Departments of Biology and Biotechnology, Physics, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, as well as Mechanics and Maritime Sciences. The project originated from the framework of the current Nano Excellence Initiative at Chalmers (formerly the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Area of Advance).</span></div> <div> </div> <div>The research was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the European Research Council.<span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More on catalysis</h2> <div>Catalysis is the process by which a catalyst is involved in a chemical reaction. In a catalyst, metal nanoparticles are often some of the most crucial active ingredients, because the chemical reactions take place on their surface. The best-known example is probably the three-way catalytic converter found in cars, which mitigates harmful emissions. Catalysis is also widely used in industry at large scale and has a key role to play in new sustainable energy technologies, such as fuel cells. To develop catalysts for the future, new and effective materials are needed. It is therefore necessary to be able to identify how the size, shape, nanostructure and chemical composition of individual nanoparticles affects their performance in a catalyst. </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​More on the nanoreactor</h2> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Illustration av nanoreaktor" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/Nanotunnlar%20350x305%20webb.jpg" style="width:200px;height:174px;background-color:initial" /><div>​A nanoreactor developed at Chalmers visualises the activity of individual catalytic nanoparticles. To identify the efficiency of each particle in the catalytic process, the researchers isolated individual gold nanoparticles in separate nanotunnels. They then sent in two kinds of molecules that react with each other on the particles’ surfaces. One molecule (fluorescein) is fluorescent and when it meets its partner molecule (borohydride) the light emission stops upon reaction between the two. This makes it possible to track the catalytic process​.</div></div> <div>​<br /></div>Wed, 13 Nov 2019 07:00:00 +0100 materials discovered in nature – the rhubarb molecule did the job<p><b>​A research group at Chalmers University of Technology and University of Yaoundé in Cameroon has discovered natural varieties of materials which, until now, have only been synthesised in laboratories. In a new study, the “rhubarb molecule” oxalic acid and its ability to bind in different directions have been shown to play a crucial role. The research is published in the journal CrystEngComm by the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">&quot;It is fascinating to see how we in nature discover variations of materials, that has been made in the laboratory only the past twenty years, and how our mathematical description of them is at once informative and beautifu</span><span style="background-color:initial">l,</span><span style="background-color:initial">&quot; says Françoise Noa, postdoctoral research fellow at Chalmers University of Technology.</span><div> </div> <div><strong>Can pave the way for understanding and producing new materials </strong><br />The researchers investigated published crystal structures of a large number of chemical compounds with metal ions and oxalate ions. The basis for these materials is two-headed carboxylic acids that can bind a metal ion at each end and thus build up network structures. The simplest of these carboxylic acids, oxalic acid, is found for example in rhubarb. When the oxalic acid, HOOC-COOH, loses two positive hydrogen ions and becomes the oxalate ion, -OOC-COO-, it can instead bind metal ions at each end and form networks as several oxalate ions can bind to one metal ion. The team systematized these networks based on their topological properties.</div> <div><br />&quot;The network-forming function of the oxalate ion is technically very important and arise because it binds individual metal ions well using two oxygen atoms at the same time (the so called chelate effect) and is able to do so in two directions,&quot; says Professor Lars Öhrström at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology and co-author of the study.</div> <div> </div> <div>The materials are described as symmetric and periodically repeating networks with the metal ion at the junctions. A simple version in two dimensions is a regular square grid pattern. However, square grid patterns were not found in these oxalate materials. Instead, the team found four brand new three-dimensional networks, which can pave the way for understanding and producing new materials.</div> <div><br /><strong>Important applications for other scientific studies </strong>   <br />Metal-Organic Frameworks or MOFs have many possible applications, from drug delivery to biogas storage. Several materials have already been commercialized. In addition, it was discovered in this study that a component of kidney stones, weddellite, is a MOF with calcium ions and oxalate ions. The weddellite network has water-filled channels, and the water molecules' interactions with the network have been found to have important applications for other scientific studies. At the University of California – Berkeley researchers have optimized this interaction and thus developed a method for extracting water from desert air with the help of another MOF. Professor Omar Yaghi at Berkeley comments the Chalmers and Yaoundé researchers work by saying that it is an important part of learning the grammar and taxonomy of Metal-Organic Frameworks, how they are constructed and how they can be designed.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Facts Oxalic acid</strong><br />Oxalic acid is found in a variety of plants and is named after the wood sorrel, Oxalis acetosella. It is a relatively strong acid and its salts, compounds where it has released two hydrogen ions, are called oxalates. Oxalic acid and oxalates have many practical uses, several of these related to its ability to bind metal ions with a &quot;pinch manoeuvre&quot; using two of the oxygen atoms.</div> <div><br /><strong>Facts Metal-Organic Frameworks </strong><br />Materials where metal ions are bridged by organic molecules and form network structures, often with relatively large channels and cavities. The commercial applications that exist today are based on the materials' ability to adsorb and store gases. Another interesting use is to extract water from air even in very dry climates.</div> <div><br />Read more:</div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Natural and Synthetic Metal Oxalates – a Topology Approach </a></div> <div>Link to the <a href="">Berkeley News on Omar Yaghis’ water harvesting MOFs.</a></div> <div>Link to the <a href="">popular science book ”The Rhubarb Connection”</a></div>Fri, 01 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0100 new insight into how DNA is held together<p><b>Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a new aspect to the way that DNA binds itself, and the role played by hydrophobic effects. They show how small changes in water properties can delicately control the binding process. The discovery opens doors for new understanding in research in medicine and life sciences. The researchers’ findings are presented in the journal PNAS.</b></p>DNA is constructed of two strands, consisting of sugar molecules and phosphate groups. Between these two strands are nitrogen bases, the compounds which make up organisms’ genes, with hydrogen bonds between them. Those hydrogen bonds have sometimes been seen as crucial to holding the two strands together.<br /><br />But now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology show that the secret to DNA’s helical structure may be that the molecules have a hydrophobic interior, in an environment consisting mainly of water. The environment is therefore hydrophilic, while the DNA molecules’ nitrogen bases are hydrophobic, pushing away the surrounding water. When hydrophobic units are in a hydrophilic environment, they group together, to minimise their exposure to the water. <br /><br />The role of the hydrogen bonds, which have sometimes been seen as crucial to holding DNA helixes together, appears to be more to do with sorting the base pairs, so that they link together in the correct sequence.<br /><br />The discovery is crucial for understanding DNA’s relationship with its environment.<br /><br />“Cells want to protect their DNA, and not expose it to hydrophobic environments, which can sometimes contain harmful molecules,” says Bobo Feng, one of the researchers behind the study. “But at the same time, the cells’ DNA needs to open up in order to be used.”  <br /><br /> “We believe that the cell keeps its DNA in a water solution most of the time, but as soon as a cell wants to do something with its DNA, like read, copy or repair it, it exposes the DNA to a hydrophobic environment.”<br /><br />Reproduction, for example, involves the base pairs dissolving from one another and opening up. Enzymes then copy both sides of the helix to create new DNA. When it comes to repairing damaged DNA, the damaged areas are subjected to a hydrophobic environment, to be replaced. A catalytic protein creates the hydrophobic environment. This type of protein is central to all DNA repairs, meaning it could be the key to fighting many serious sicknesses. <br /><br />Understanding these proteins could yield many new insights into how we could, for example, fight resistant bacteria, or potentially even cure cancer. Bacteria use a protein called RecA to repair their DNA. The researchers believe their results could pave the way for new insight into how this process works, and potential methods for stopping this and thereby killing the bacteria. <br /><br />In human cells, the protein Rad51 repairs DNA and fixes mutated DNA sequences, which otherwise could lead to cancer. <br /><br /> “To understand cancer, we need to understand how DNA repairs. To understand that, we first need to understand DNA itself,&quot; says Bobo Feng. &quot;We have shown that DNA behaves totally differently in a hydrophobic environment. This could help us to understand DNA.” <div><br /><strong>More information on the methods the researchers used to show how DNA binds together</strong><br />The researchers studied how DNA behaves in an environment which is more hydrophobic than normal, a method they were the first to experiment with. <br /><br />They used the hydrophobic solution polyethylene glycol, and step-by-step changed the DNA’s surroundings from the naturally hydrophilic environment to a hydrophobic one. They aimed to discover if there is a limit where DNA starts to lose its structure, when the DNA does not have a reason to bind, because the environment is no longer hydrophilic. The researchers observed that when the solution reached the borderline between hydrophilic and hydrophobic, the DNA molecules’ characteristic spiral form started to unravel.<br /><br />Upon closer inspection, they observed that when the base pairs split from one another (due to external influence, or simply from random movements), holes in the structure are formed, allowing water to leak in. Because DNA wants to keep its interior dry, it presses together, with the base pairs coming together again to squeeze out the water. In a hydrophobic environment, this water is missing, so the holes stay in place.  <br /><br />Read the scientific article “<a href="">Hydrophobic catalysis and a potential biological role of DNA unstacking induced by environment effects</a>” in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). <br /></div>Mon, 23 Sep 2019 07:00:00 +0200 the periodic table at high pressure<p><b>​The periodic table has been a vital foundational tool for material research since it was first created 150 years ago. Now, Martin Rahm from Chalmers University of Technology presents a new article which adds an entirely new dimension to the table, offering a new set of principles for material research. The article is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The study maps how both the electronegativity and the electron configuration of elements change under pressure. These findings offer materials researchers an entirely new set of tools. Primarily, it means it is now possible to make quick predictions about how certain elements will behave at different pressures, without requiring experimental testing or computationally expensive quantum mechanical calculations. </span><div><br /><div>“Currently, searching for those interesting compounds which appear at high pressure requires a large investment of time and resources, both computationally and experimentally. As a consequence, only a tiny fraction of all possible compounds has been investigated. The work we are presenting can act as a guide to help explain what to look for and which compounds to expect when materials are placed under high pressure,” says Martin Rahm, Assistant Professor in Chemistry at Chalmers, who led the study. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>At high pressures the properties of atoms can change radically. The new study shows how the electron configuration and electronegativity of atoms change as pressure increases. Electron configuration is fundamental to the structure of the periodic table. It determines which group in the system different elements belong to. Electronegativity is also a central concept to chemistry and can be viewed as a third dimension of the periodic table. It indicates how strongly different atoms attract electrons. Together, electron configuration and electronegativity are important for understanding how atoms react with one another to form different substances. At high pressure, atoms which normally do not combine can create new, never before seen compounds with unique properties. Such materials can inspire researchers to try other methods for creating them under more normal conditions, and give us new insight into how our world works. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“At high pressure, extremely fascinating chemical structures with unusual qualities can arise, and reactions that are impossible under normal conditions can occur. A lot of what we as chemists know about elements’ properties under ambient conditions simply doesn’t hold true any longer. You can basically take a lot of your chemistry education and throw it out the window! In the dimension of pressure there is an unbelievable number of new combinations of atoms to investigate” says Martin Rahm.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A well-known example of what can happen at high pressure is how diamonds can be formed from graphite. Another example is polymerisation of nitrogen gas, where nitrogen atoms are forced together to bond in a three-dimensional network. These two high-pressure materials are very unlike one another. Whereas carbon retains its diamond structure, polymerised nitrogen is unstable and reverts back to gas form when the pressure is released. If the polymer structure of nitrogen could be maintained at normal pressures, it would without doubt be the most energy dense chemical compound on Earth. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Currently, several research groups use high pressures to create superconductors – materials which can conduct electricity without resistance. Some of these high-pressure superconductors function close to room temperature. If such a material could be made to work at normal pressure, it would be revolutionary, enabling, for example, lossless power transfer and cheaper magnetic levitation.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“First and foremost, our study offers exciting possibilities for suggesting new experiments that can improve our understanding of the elements. Even if many materials resulting from such experiments prove unstable at normal pressure, they can give us insights into which properties and phenomena are possible. The steps thereafter will be to find other ways to reach the same results,” says Martin Rahm.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read the article <a href="">‘Squeezing All Elements in the Periodic Table: Electron Configuration and Electronegativity of the Atoms under Compression’</a> in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>High pressure research: </strong></div> <div>The research has theoretically predicted how the nature of 93 of the 118 elements of the periodic table changes as pressure increases from 0 pascals up to 300 gigapascals (GPa). 1 GPa is about 10,000 times the pressure of the Earth’s surface. 360 GPa corresponds to the extremely high pressure found near the Earth’s core. Technology to recreate this pressure exists in different laboratories, for example, using diamond anvil cells or shock experiments. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The pressure that we are used to on Earth’s surface is actually rather uncommon, seen from a larger perspective. In addition to facilitating for high pressure material synthesis on Earth, our work can also enable a better understanding of processes occurring on other planets and moons. For example, in the largest sea in the solar system, many miles under the surface of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Or inside the giant planets, where the pressure is enormous,” says Martin Rahm. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The work was done using a mathematical model, in which each atom was placed in the middle of a spherical cavity. The effect of increased pressure was simulated through gradual reduction of the volume of the sphere. The physical properties of the atoms in different stages of compression could then be calculated using quantum mechanics.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>More information: </strong></div> <div>At high pressure, atoms and molecules come closer together, and take on different atomic and electronic structures. A consequence of this is that materials that are usually semi-conductors or insulators can transform into metals. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Only some materials that form at high pressure retain their structure and properties when returned to ambient pressure. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The research was done together with colleagues Roberto Cammi, University of Parma, as well as Neil Ashcroft and Nobel prize winner Roald Hoffmann, both at Cornell University. </div> <div><br /></div> </div>Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0200 film could even out the indoor temperature using solar energy<p><b>​A window film with a specially designed molecule could be capable of taking the edge off the worst midday heat and instead distributing it evenly from morning to evening. The molecule has the unique ability to capture energy from the sun’s rays and release it later as heat. This is shown by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, in the scientific journal Advanced Science.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">On sunny summer days, it can be little short of unbearable to stay indoors or in cars. The heat radiates in and creates an unpleasantly high temperature for people, animals, and plants. Using energy-intensive systems such as air conditioning and fans means combating the thermal energy with other forms of energy. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology are proposing a method that utilises the heat and distributes it evenly over a longer period instead.</span><div>When their specially designed molecule is struck by the sun’s rays it captures photons and simultaneously changes form – it is isomerised. When the sun stops shining on the window film the molecules release heat for up to eight hours after the sun has set. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The aim is to create a pleasant indoor environment even when the sun is at its hottest, without consuming any energy or having to shut ourselves behind blinds. Why not make the most of the energy that we get free of charge instead of trying to fight it,” says chemist Kasper Moth-Poulsen, who is leading the research.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>At dawn when the film has not absorbed any solar energy it is yellow or orange since these colours are the opposite of blue and green, which is the light spectrum that the researchers have chosen to capture from the sun. When the molecule captures solar energy and is isomerised, it loses its colour and then becomes entirely transparent. As long as the sun is shining on the film it captures energy, which means that not as much heat penetrates through the film and into the room. At dusk, when there is less sunlight, heat starts to be released from the film and it gradually returns to its yellow shade and is ready to capture sunlight again the following day. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“For example, airports and office complexes should be able to reduce their energy consumption while also creating a more pleasant climate with our film, since the current heating and cooling systems often do not keep up with rapid temperature fluctuations,” says Moth-Poulsen. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The molecule is part of a concept the research team calls MOST, which stands for ‘Molecular Solar Thermal Storage’. Previously the team presented an energy system for houses based on the same molecule (see the related press release below). In that case – after the solar energy had been captured by the molecule – it could be stored for an extended period, such as from summer to winter, and then used to heat an entire house. The researchers realised that they could shorten the step to application by optimising the molecule for a window film as well, which would also create better conditions for the slightly more complex energy system for houses. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>What the researchers still have to do is to increase the concentration of the molecule in the film whilst also retaining the film’s properties, and bring down the price of the molecule. But according to Moth-Poulsen they are very close to this innovation. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The step to applying our film is so short that it could happen very soon. We are at a very exciting stage with MOST,” he says.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>More about the research</strong></div> <div><a href="">Read the article in the paper Solar Energy Storage by Molecular Norbornadiene–Quadricyclane Photoswitches: Polymer Film Devices</a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>The research has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish Strategic Research Foundation.<br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>For more information, contact:</div> <div>Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Professor of Nanochemistry, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, +46 761 99 68 55,</div> Mon, 08 Jul 2019 07:00:00 +0200