News: Kemi- och bioteknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyThu, 04 Apr 2019 13:43:37 +0200 Tomoko M. Nakanishi Honorary Doctor at Chalmers 2019<p><b>Tomoko M Nakanishi is awarded honorary doctorate at Chalmers 2019. She is recognised for her interdisciplinary research on plant physiology, and developing pioneering new imaging methods. Tomoko M. Nakanishi is a professor at the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Laboratory of Radio-Plant Physiology, The University of Tokyo, Japan.</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial"><strong><br /></strong></span></div> <strong> </strong><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Tell us a little about your collaboration with Swedish scientists regarding radiation research.</strong></span><div><br /></div> <div>Since there are superb scientists in nuclear physics, nuclear techniques, and chemistry in Chalmers University of Technology, I got so many important comments an d suggestions from them on my studies, since I began to use neutron beams, about 20 years ago. And then, especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident, we challenged to perform collaborative research and education for radio-ecology.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>What would you say is the biggest challenge where radiation studies might hold an answer right now?</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Radiation is an indispensable tool and cannot be replaced with any other means. It opens new fields in studies and in industries. The field of application and the market size is steadily increasing in the society now but how to communicate or convince the preference and importance of radiation usage to the public people is the largest problem and it is the challenge for both researchers and the industry people. But we are gradually making progress though showing the marvelous research results using radiation.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>You have been active in increasing the public knowledge in Japan about the impact and risks of radiation, not least in connection to the Fukushima-accident. Can you tell us about your experience from this work?</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Many people are afraid of radiation because it is invisible. However, using radiation we could visualize images which we usually cannot see. For example, using a neutron beam, I could present water specific image of living plants, even the roots embedded in soil, too. When 137Cs is applied to water culture solution with soil, Cs is firmly adsorbed in soil and the plants cannot absorb 137Cs. To visualize the risk of plant contamination is an easy method to understand the situation and provides relief to the people. The water images of flowers are especially beautiful and give a strong impact and favorable impression of neutron beam usage to many people.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>You have visited us a couple of times and also hosted Chalmers researchers. Could you share some thoughts about our radiation research? Where are we strong and where must we improve?</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div>There are two points. One is the necessity of a long-range study for radioecology, and the other one is more utilization of radiation and radioisotopes is recommended, which will surely lead to innovation of the research. The former one means, one of the main targeted radionuclide, Cs-137, in radioecology has a very long half-life, 30 years. We should continue this study to understand the effect of a possible nuclear accident in future generations. The latter means, there are not so many well-developed studies, which make most of the radiation or radioisotopes. For example, in the biological field, fluorescent imaging is now overwhelming and many new findings are reported. But imaging under light conditions is not possible and numerical treatment of the image is very difficult in fluorescent imaging. So both fluorescent and radiation imaging should be developed further.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Will you visit Chalmers in a near future?</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Of course, I will surely visit Chalmers again. But right now, since I got a new job as a president of another University in Tokyo from this spring, I cannot decide the date right now. But when I will know about the situation in my new office, I would like to visit Chalmers. In my capacity as a foreign member of IVA, I also plan to attend the Annual Gathering in October, especially that this year is the 100th anniversary of the foundation of IVA.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mats Tiborn</div>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100 identify yourself with your luminous slime<p><b>​Using digital solutions to identify and verify documents has become increasingly common, but digital codes can be broken. Researchers at Chalmers propose in an article in the journal Chemical Science an alternative to the digital, a luminescent gel.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">What happens if you mix a luminescent molecule, two molecules that react to light and one gel? A hack-proof identification system, says Associate Professor Henrik Sundén at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers.</span><div><br /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><div>The identification technique is based on the ability to state the right color within the well-established CIE diagram. By illuminating the identification gel during a given time and with a given wavelength on the light, the right color is revealed. The color emitted can be controlled in several different ways and is dependent of the composition of the molecules, but also of which wavelengths the gel is illuminated with and for how long. Only the person who has access to the correct lighting sequence and the correct composition of molecules will succeed in giving the correct coordinates in the CIE diagram. In other words, it is impossible to give the correct identification code without the gel. The mixture can potentially form the basis of a hack-proof authentication system.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Traditional methods for these purposes require complex mathematical algorithms and processing power. By using a gel and light instead, we can achieve similar results with considerably less resources”, says Henrik Sundén.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The technique is based on a gel that contains a kind of luminescent, or fluorescent, molecules, and one or two types of photoresponsive molecules triggered by light exposure. The fluorescent molecule shines naturally in a blue tone, but when its blue light shines on the photoresponsive molecules, they are activated and the mixture begins to shine in another color. The enclosing gel consists of a specially designed molecule with self-healing properties. This allows the identification gel to be reused again and again. Thanks to the complexity of the processes that underlie the color changes of the gel, it is practically impossible to predict them on the basis of a given lighting sequence. It is the same unpredictability that is behind today's digital encryption algorithms.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Unlike digital solutions, it is not possible to hack molecules. When you identify yourself with today's digital system, you can probably hack the code, but if we disconnect the digital and instead use a gel and a spectrophotometer codes can be created that cannot be cracked digitally”, says Henrik Sundén.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>By using the established color chart CIE as the coordinate system, authenticity can be verified. The idea is that both parties in the identification situation agree on a certain composition of the gel. When the identification takes place, the person who is to be identified must receive a number of wavelengths to expose the gel with and time indication for how long. The colors that appear after the correct exposure are plotted into the coordinate system. These provide a non-linear curve that is completely unique to precisely the input conditions. If both parties' results match one another, the identification is approved.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The combination of right lighting sequence and composition and concentration of the gel entails an incalculable number of combinations. In the article, the researchers show a proof of concept. However, much further research remains, but in the future, you may have slime in your pocket instead of digital ID.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read the article here</a></div> <div>​<br /></div></div> <div>Text and image: Mats Tiborn</div>Fri, 22 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100–-and-better-beer.aspx cell stress for better health – and better beer<p><b>​Human beings are not the only ones who suffer from stress – even microorganisms can be affected. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have devised a new method to study how single biological cells react to stressful situations. Understanding these responses could help develop more effective drugs for serious diseases. As well as that, the research could even help to brew better beer. ​​</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial">All living organisms can experience stress during challenging situations. Cells and microorganisms have complicated systems to govern how they adapt to new conditions. They can alter their own structure by incorporating or releasing many different substances into the surroundings. Due to the complexity of these molecular processes, understanding these systems is a difficult task. </span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span> </div> <div>Chalmers researchers Daniel Midtvedt, Erik Olsén, Fredrik Höök and Gavin Jeffries have now made an important breakthrough, by looking at how individual yeast cells react to changes in the local environment – in this case an increased osmolarity, or concentration, of salt. They both identified and monitored the change of compounds within the yeast cells, one of which was a sugar, glycerol. Furthermore, they were able to measure the exact rate and amount of glycerol produced by different cells under various stress conditions. Their results have now been published in the renowned scientific journal Nature Communications. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">With the help of holographic microscopy, researchers have studied biological microorganisms in three dimensions to be able to see how they react to changes in their surroundings. The cells’ reactions to stress is measured through a method in which a laser beam is first split into two light paths. One of the light paths passes through a cell sample, and one does not. The two beams are then recombined at a slight offset angle. It is then possible to read changes in the cell’s properties through the variations in the beams’ phase offsets. Understanding these responses could help develop more effective drugs for serious diseases. Additionally, the research could even help to brew better beer. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span> </div> <span></span><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/DanielMidtvedt_20190125-01_webb.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:medium" /><span style="font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:medium"></span><div>​&quot;Yeast and bacteria have very similar systems when it comes to response to stress, meaning the results are very interesting from a medical point of view. This could help us understand how to make life harder for undesirable bacteria which invade our body – a means to knock out their defence mechanisms,” says Daniel Midtvedt, researcher in biological physics at Chalmers, and lead writer of the scientific paper. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>He has been researching the subject since 2015, and, together with his colleagues, has developed a variant of holographic microscopy to study the cells in three dimensions. The method is built upon an interference imaging approach, splitting a laser beam into two light paths, with one which passes through a cell sample, and one which does not. The two beams are then recombined at a slight offset angle. This makes it possible to read changes in the cell’s properties through the variations in beam phase offsets.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>With this method of investigating a cell, researchers can see what different microorganisms produce under stress – without needing to use different types of traditional ‘label-based’ strategies. Their non-invasive strategy allows for multiple compounds to be detected simultaneously, without damaging the cell.</div> <div>The researchers now plan to use the new method in a large collaboration project, to look at the uptake of targeted biomedicines. </div> <div><br /> </div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/FredrikHook_20190201_01_webb.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:medium" /><span style="font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:medium"></span><div>​“Hopefully, we can contribute to improved understanding of how drugs are received and processed by human cells. It is important to be able to develop new type of drugs, with the hope that we can treat those illnesses which today are untreatable,” says Chalmers professor Fredrik Höök, who further leads the research centre Formulaex, where AstraZeneca is the leading industry partner. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>As well as the benefit to medical researchers, improved knowledge of the impact of stress on yeast cells could be valuable for the food and drink industry – not least, when it comes to brewing better beer.</div> <div>“Yeast is essential for both food and drink preparation, for example in baking bread and brewing beer. This knowledge of yeast cells’ physical characteristics could be invaluable. We could optimise the products exactly as we want them,” says Daniel Midtvedt. </div> <div><br /> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Text: <span>Joshua Worth,<a href=""></a>​ and Mia Halleröd Palmgren, <a href=""></a></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>Images: Mia Halleröd Palmgren</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span><br /></span> </p> <span></span><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">The new method to analyse cells’ reactions to stress:</h3> <span></span><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif"></h3> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/holografisktmikroskop_20190125-04._webb.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /> With the help of holographic microscopy, researchers have studied biological microorganisms in three dimensions to be able to see how they react to changes in their surroundings. The cells’ reactions to stress is measured through a method in which a laser beam is first split into two light paths. One of the light paths passes through a cell sample, and one does not. The two beams are then recombined at a slight offset angle. It is then possible to read changes in the cell’s properties through the variations in the beams’ phase offsets. </p> <div>Understanding these responses could help develop more effective drugs for serious diseases. Additionally, the research could even help to brew better beer. </div> <div><br /> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">About the scientific paper:</h3> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/ErikOlsén_DanielMidtvedt_GavinJeffies_20190204_02_webb_liten.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><div>The article, <a href="">“Label-free spatio-temporal monitoring of cytosolic mass, osmolarity, and volume in living cells” ​</a>is published in Nature Communications. It was written by Chalmers researchers Daniel Midtvedt, Erik Olsén and Fredrik Höök from Chalmers’ Department of Physics, and Gavin Jeffries (Fluicell AB), previously at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. </div> <div><span><span style="background-color:initial"><span style="display:inline-block"></span></span></span><br /> </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">For more information, contact: </h3> <div><strong><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Daniel-Midtvedt.aspx">Daniel Midtvedt</a></strong>, Post Doc, Biological Physics, Department of Physics</div> <div>+46 ​73 736 85 05, <span></span><span style="background-color:initial"><a href=""></a></span></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><strong><a href="/en/staff/Pages/Fredrik-Höök.aspx">Fredrik Höök</a></strong>, Professor/Head of Division, Biological Physics, Department of Physics </div> <div>+46 31 772 61 30, <span style="background-color:initial"><a href="​">​</a></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span> </div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/DanielMidtedt_20190125_03_webb_750x.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;background-color:initial" /><span style="background-color:initial">With the help of h</span><span style="background-color:initial">olographic microscopy, the researcher Daniel Midtvedt studies biological microorganisms in three dimensions to be able to se</span><span style="background-color:initial">e how they react to changes in their surroundings.</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span></div> <div><br /> </div> <h4 class="chalmersElement-H4">Related material: </h4> <div><a href="/en/departments/physics/news/Pages/75-MSEK-for-developing-target-seeking-biological-pharmaceuticals.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Read the press release “75 million SEK for developing target seeking biological pharmaceuticals”.</a></div> <div><a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/about/Pages/default.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read more on Formulaex.​</a><br /></div>Tue, 12 Feb 2019 07:00:00 +0100 management for the Area of Advance - Materials Science<p><b>​ Maria Abrahamsson and Leif Asp are appointed new directors for the Area of Advance - Materials Science, succeeding the former Director Aleksandar Matic at the mandate period turnover.</b></p><div>​<a href="/en/Staff/Pages/abmaria.aspx" target="_blank">Maria Abrahamsson</a> is assuming the position as Director for the Area of Advance - Materials Science. Growing up in the small town of Flerohopp in rural Sweden, Maria developed an early interest for environmental issues and after initial studies in geology, she eventually found her passion in chemistry. She pursued her doctorate studies at Uppsala University, engaging in the development of artificial photosynthesis, and later continued in the field as a post doc at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.</div> <br /><div>This year, Maria is celebrating 10 years at Chalmers where she has a position as an Associate professor at the department for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering since 2015. Her research focuses on conversion of solar energy for fuel production as well as production of electricity. Maria was previously the Vice director of the Area of Advance - Materials Science at Chalmers.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>–Today’s society faces some big challenges. Globally, as well as locally. The most obvious ones are of course climate changes, environmental issues and a growing elderly population, but to tackle these challenges it is important that everyone have access to environmentally sound products and materials. We want people to naturally turn to Chalmers when looking for the best education and scientists in the area of material science, says Maria.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/staff/Pages/leifas.aspx" target="_blank">Leif Asp</a> is succeeding Maria Abrahamsson as Vice director for the Area of Advance - Materials Science. Leif has a background as a civil engineer from Luleå Technical University where he also earned his doctorate degree in polymeric construction materials. He has valuable experience from working in several industries and is the founder of SICOMP (now RISE SICOMP) and was appointed their chief scientist in 2011. Leif also has extensive collaboration with scientists and industry through his engagement in <a href="" target="_blank">LIGHTer</a> Academy, a platform for development of lightweight solutions for the industry.</div> <div><br /></div> <div> Since 2015 Leif is a professor at the Department of Industrial and Material Science where his research focuses on modelling and construction of lightweight composite materials.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>–Through the Area of Advance, Chalmers has a unique tool to coordinate and execute interdisciplinary research across our whole University and can tackle bigger questions than any individual research group or even department can manage. We therefore have a huge potential to develop new materials, methods and technologies to provide solutions to many societal needs, Leif says.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>During the coming year the duo aim to increase international collaborations and deepen the exchange with existing ones, but also to find new ways of engaging students in materials science, and discussions of a summer research school is ongoing.</div> <div><br /></div> –We also want to meet all researchers in the Area of Advance - Materials Science to get an updated view and to learn about all the exciting research performed throughout the Area of Advance!<br />Wed, 30 Jan 2019 13:00:00 +0100 in organic electronics<p><b>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a simple new tweak that could double the efficiency of organic electronics. OLED-displays, plastic-based solar cells and bioelectronics are just some of the technologies that could benefit from their new discovery, which deals with &quot;double-doped&quot; polymers.</b></p><p>​The majority of our everyday electronics are based on inorganic semiconductors, such as silicon. Crucial to their function is a process called doping, which involves weaving impurities into the semiconductor to enhance its electrical conductivity. It is this that allows various components in solar cells and LED screens to work. </p> <p>For organic – that is, carbon-based – semiconductors, this doping process is similarly of extreme importance. Since the discovery of electrically conducting plastics and polymers, a field in which a Nobel Prize was awarded in 2000, research and development of organic electronics has accelerated quickly. OLED-displays are one example which are already on the market, for example in the latest generation of smartphones. Other applications have not yet been fully realised, due in part to the fact that organic semiconductors have so far not been efficient enough. </p> <p>Doping in organic semiconductors operates through what is known as a redox reaction. This means that a dopant molecule receives an electron from the semiconductor, increasing the electrical conductivity of the semiconductor. The more dopant molecules that the semiconductor can react with, the higher the conductivity – at least up to a certain limit, after which the conductivity decreases. Currently, the efficiency limit of doped organic semiconductors has been determined by the fact that the dopant molecules have only been able to exchange one electron each.</p> <p>But now, in an article in the scientific journal Nature Materials, <a href="/sv/personal/redigera/Sidor/Christian-Müller.aspx">Professor Christian Müller </a>and his group, together with colleagues from seven other universities demonstrate that it is possible to move two electrons to every dopant molecule. </p> <p>&quot;Through this 'double doping' process, the semiconductor can therefore become twice as effective,&quot; says David Kiefer, PhD student in the group and first author of the article. </p> <p>According to Christian Müller, this innovation is not built on some great technical achievement. Instead, it is simply a case of seeing what others have not seen. </p> <p>&quot;The whole research field has been totally focused on studying materials, which only allow one redox reaction per molecule. We chose to look at a different type of polymer, with lower ionisation energy. We saw that this material allowed the transfer of two electrons to the dopant molecule. It is actually very simple,&quot; says Christian Müller, Professor of Polymer Science at Chalmers University of Technology. </p> <p>The discovery could allow further improvements to technologies which today are not competitive enough to make it to market. One problem is that polymers simply do not conduct current well enough, and so making the doping techniques more effective has long been a focus for achieving better polymer-based electronics. Now, this doubling of the conductivity of polymers, while using only the same amount of dopant material, over the same surface area as before, could represent the tipping point needed to allow several emerging technologies to be commercialised. </p> <p>“With OLED displays, the development has come far enough that they are already on the market. But for other technologies to succeed and make it to market something extra is needed. With organic solar cells, for example, or electronic circuits built of organic material, we need the ability to dope certain components to the same extent as silicon-based electronics. Our approach is a step in the right direction,” says Christian Müller. </p> <p>The discovery offers fundamental knowledge and could help thousands of researchers to achieve advances in flexible electronics, bioelectronics and thermoelectricity. Christian Müller’s research group themselves are researching several different applied areas, with polymer technology at the centre. Among other things, his group is looking into the development of electrically conducting textiles and organic solar cells. </p> <p>Read the article in Nature Materials: &quot;<a href="">Double Doping of Conjugated Polymers with Monomer Molecular Dopants</a>&quot;</p> <p>The research was funded by the <a href="">Swedish Research Council</a>, the <a href="">Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation</a>, and the <a href="">European Research Council (ERC)</a>, and was carried out in collaboration with colleagues from Linköping University (Sweden), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia), Imperial College London (UK), the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, Davis (USA), and the Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany). <br /></p>Mon, 14 Jan 2019 17:00:00 +0100 scale for electronegativity developed by Chalmers researchers<p><b>​Electronegativity is one of the most well-known and used models for explaining why chemical reactions occur. Now, electronegativity is redefined in a new, more comprehensive scale, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Behind the study is Martin Rahm, Assistant Professor in Physical Chemistry at Chalmers along with one Nobel laureate.</b></p><p>The theory of electronegativity forms an important basis for understanding why the elements react with each other to form different types of materials with different properties. It is a central concept used daily by chemists and material researchers all over the world. The concept itself originates from the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius’ research in the 19th century and is commonly taught as early as high school level.</p> <p><br />Electronegativity describes how strongly different atoms attract electrons. By using electronegativity scales one can predict the approximate charge distribution in different molecules and materials, without needing to use quantum mechanical calculations or spectroscopic studies. In this way, electronegativity offers clues to how atoms and molecules will react when assembled. This is very important for understanding all kinds of materials and for designing new ones.</p> <p><br /><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/rahmma.aspx">Martin Rahm, Assistant Professor</a> in Physical Chemistry at Chalmers together with his colleagues Toby Zeng at Carlton University in Canada and Roald Hoffmann, Nobel laureate in Chemistry 1981 working at Cornell University in the United States, has now developed a whole new electronegativity scale, which they have recently published in <a href=";">the Journal of the American Chemical Society</a>. The new scale has been devised by combining experimental photoionization data for atoms with quantum mechanical calculations for those atoms where experiments are missing.</p> <p><br />One motivation for the researchers to develop the new scale was that, although there are already several different definitions of the concept, these have only been applied to cover parts of the periodic table. An additional challenge for chemists is how to explain what it means when electronegativity sometimes fails to predict chemical reactivity or polarity of chemical bonds.</p> <p><br />“This old and useful concept now has a new definition. The new definition is the average binding energy of the outermost and weakest bound electrons, commonly known as the valence electrons. These values have been computed by combining experimental data with quantum mechanical calculations. By and large, most elements still relate to each other in the same way as in earlier scales, but the new definition has also led to some interesting changes where atoms have switched place in the ordering of electronegativity.  Some elements have also had their electronegativity calculated for the first time.” says Martin Rahm.</p> <p><br />For example, oxygen and chromium have both been moved in the ranking relative to elements closest to them in the periodic table, compared to in earlier scales. The new scale comprises 96 elements, which is a marked increase compared with several previous scales. In this way, electronegativity is available from the first atom, hydrogen or H, to the ninety-sixth, curium or Cm.</p> <p><br />An additional advantage of the new definition of electronegativity is that it is part of a framework that can help explain what it means when chemical reactions are not controlled by electronegativity. In such reactions, which can be at odds with conventional chemical rationales, instead, it is typically complex interactions between electrons that are at work. What ultimately determines the outcomes of most chemical reactions is changes in the total energy. In their work, the authors offer an equation where the total energy of an atom can be described as the sum of two values, where one is the electronegativity, and the second describes the average electron interaction. The magnitude and sign of these values as they change over a reaction reveals the relative importance of electronegativity in governing chemistry.</p> <p><br />&quot;This scale is extensive, and I think and hope it will affect research in chemistry and material science. Electronegativity is routinely used in chemical research and with our new scale, a number of complicated quantum mechanical calculations can be avoided. The new definition of electronegativity can also be applied for analysing electronic structures calculated through quantum mechanics, by making such results more comprehensible.&quot; says Martin Rahm.</p> <p><br />There are endless ways to combine the atoms in the periodic table and to create new materials. Electronegativity provides a first important insight into what can be expected from these combinations. Development of numerous novel chemical reactions and materials may speed up due to the new scale. This is because the new definition allows for chemical intuition and understanding that, in turn, can guide both experiments and time-consuming quantum mechanical calculations.</p> <p><br />Fun fact: The UN has declared 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table. Electronegativity is commonly seen as a third dimension of the Periodic Table. <br /></p>Thu, 20 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 of fuel rods mapped out<p><b>​Much of the fuel in a nuclear reactor is wasted due to fuel rods that need to be replaced when they for some reason start to swell and bend due to pick-up of hydrogen. Professor Itai Panas and his PhD-student Mikaela Lindgren has now found out the mechanism for this hydrogen pick-up by mapping out the corresponding chemical reactions.</b></p><p>​Inside a nuclear reactor the fuel rods, immersed in water, are surrounded by control rods which are there to control the flux of neutrons into and out of the nuclear fuel. It is estimated that only about 3 percent of the energy in the fuel is actually used. A major reason for this is that the rods that contain the fuel start to corrode and after some time they even get bent. Since these rods are situated very close to the control rods there is the risk of getting stuck, which very likely would result in a very costly reactor shutdown simply because the control of the neutron flow would stop working properly.</p> <p><br />Today this aging process is under strict surveillance and the rods are being changed long before putting the plant at risk, with lots of nuclear energy wasted as a result.</p> <p><br />In Mikaela Lindgren’s PhD thesis she goes through earlier experiments and creates a theory for relevant aspects of the complex interactions between the fuel rod and water.  </p> <p><br />The fuel containing rods are made of a zirconium alloy, called Zircalloy. Since the rod is surrounded by water oxidation of the alloy occurs together with evolution of hydrogen gas. This, in itself, doesn’t cause the bending of the rod. It is, instead, inside the alloy the problem starts since all of the hydrogen doesn’t turn to gas. Sometimes up to 40 percent makes its way through the oxide scale, first as hydroxide ions and, when almost through, also as hydride ions. </p> <p><br />The thesis also shows how this penetration depends on additives in the alloy, for example iron or nickel. Moreover, after having described how the oxidation takes place and how it is affected by hydrogen in the alloy, Mikaela Lindgren went through the periodic table and discovered that the nobler the additive metal the better it binds to the hydrogen in the cathodic part of the oxidation reaction. This accumulation of hydride ions in the oxide leads to an influx of hydrogen through the oxide, as protons and hydride ions, that become absorbed by the Zircalloy. Depending on the nobility of the additive either hydrogen pick-up or hydrogen gas evolution is preferred. The nobler the additive the greater is the risk for the hydrogen pick-up, which I turn is the cause of the kind of alloy swelling that eventually leads to bent fuel rods. </p> <p><br />The study explains results from earlier autoclave experiments. Itai Panas emphasizes that the mechanism may not be exactly the same when taking radiation into account, but this study gives a new and important tool that might result in better used fuel rods. </p> <p><br />In addition, because of the fundamental nature of the study regarding oxidation, the mechanism has opened up for new possibilities in oxidation research also in other areas than the nuclear, including biofuelled powerplants. </p> <div> </div> Tue, 18 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 in dinosaur collaboration<p><b>​New discoveries regarding the dolphin-like fish lizard Stenopterygius, which lived 180 million years ago have been published in the scientific journal Nature. Chalmers’ research infrastructure Chemical imaging plays an important part in the discoveries.</b></p>​The <a href="">Stenopterygius</a> <span>was around two meters long and lived in the <a href="">Early Jurassic</a> period in an ocean that was situated where southern Germany now is, over a hundred million years before the times of the better known dinosaurs Tyrannusaurus and Triceratops. Now researchers, in a multidisciplinary international collaboration led by a group at the Lund University in Sweden, have investigated a very well preserved fossil which has led to astonishing new knowledge about the dolphin-like creature which they now <a href="">publish in Nature</a>. The fossil’s integumental parts such as blubber, skin and liver have been studied at both cellular and molecular levels. This has led to a clearer image of what the animal looked like and was structured.  One discovery the researchers made was that although 180 million years have passed, there is still some flexibility in parts of the tissue. To be able to perform this in depth analysis the groupe involved Chalmers infrastructure of Chemical imaging.</span><div><br /><span></span> <div>– We have been looking at melanophores, i.e pigment-containing cells, and skin from the fossil. We have been able to confirm that the cells, after millions of years, still contain important organic elements from lipids and proteins, says <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Per-Malmberg.aspx">Per Malmberg</a>, director at Chalmers and University of Gothenburgs open infrastructure <a href="/en/researchinfrastructure/chemicalimaging/Pages/default.aspx">Chemical imaging</a>.<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Dinosaur/Per%20Malmberg-.jpg" width="2741" height="3549" alt="" style="height:220px;width:170px;margin:5px" /><br /><br /></div> <div>The discovery contributes with renewed knowledge regarding convergent evolution, i.e similar characteristics in different species that have developed due to similar living conditions rather than due to heritage. The fish lizard has several similarities with today’s dolphins and porpoises, but also the leatherback sea turtle, even though they are not related. </div> <div>The research has been carried out together by universities all over the world, but has been led by researchers at the Lund University. They choose to engage Chalmers because <span style="background-color:initial">their open infrastructure</span><span style="background-color:initial"> offer access to NanoSIMS-analysis and analytical competence</span><span style="background-color:initial">.</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div></div> <div>– Me and my colleague Aurélien Thomen from University of Gothenburg, who also is involved in this work, are proud to be able to contribute with an important piece of the puzzle to understand how Stenopterygius functioned. Our infrastructure offers a unique possibility to get high resolution chemical surface analysis and our contribution to the study shows that our infrastructure is world class, says Per Malmberg.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>NanoSIMS, as part of Chemical imaging, is a technology that makes it possible to create chemical maps of surfaces. Ranging from hard materials such as fossil to soft matter such as cells, all can be analysed by the <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Dinosaur/nanosims.jpg" width="457" height="294" alt="" style="height:223px;width:345px;margin:5px" /><br />NanoSIMS. It is a quite sensitive technology that may analyse substances at a ppm-level and create images of distribution with a resolution down to 50 nanometres. Chemical imaging is an infrastructure co-owned together with the University of Gothenburg and facilitates the only NanoSIMS instrument in the Nordic countries.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="">Read more about the discovery at Lunds University’s web.​</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mats Tiborn</div> <div>​<br /></div></div>Wed, 05 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 toxic mercury from contaminated water<p><b>Water which has been contaminated with mercury and other toxic heavy metals is a major cause of environmental damage and health problems worldwide. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, present a totally new way to clean contaminated water, through an electrochemical process. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. ​​​</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial">“Our results have really exceeded the expectations we had when we started with the technique,” says the research leader Björn Wickman, from Chalmers’ Department of Physics. “Our new method makes it possible to reduce the mercury content in a liquid by more than 99%. This can bring the water well within the margins for safe human consumption.” </span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mercury is one the most harmful substances for human health. It can influence the nervous system, the development of the brain, and more. It is particularly harmful for children and can also be transmitted from a mother to a child during pregnancy. Furthermore, mercury spreads very easily through nature, and can enter the food chain. Freshwater fish, for example, often contain high levels of mercury. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>In the last two years, Björn Wickman and Cristian Tunsu, researcher at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers, have studied an electrochemical process for cleaning mercury from water. Their method works via extracting the heavy metal ions from water by encouraging them to form an alloy with another metal. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Today, removing low, yet harmful, levels of mercury from large amounts of water is a major challenge. Industries need better methods to reduce the risk of mercury being released in nature,” says Björn Wickman. </div> <div><br /></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Vattenrening_labbsetup1_webb.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;background-color:initial" /><div>Their new method involves a metal plate – an electrode – that binds specific heavy metals to it. The electrode is made of the noble metal platinum, and through an electrochemical process it draws the toxic mercury out of the water to form an alloy of the two. In this way, the water is cleaned of the mercury contamination. The alloy formed by the two metals is very stable, so there is no risk of the mercury re-entering the water. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“An alloy of this type has been made before, but with a totally different purpose in mind. This is the first time the technique with electrochemical alloying has been used for decontamination purposes,” says Cristian Tunsu.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>One strength of the new cleaning technique is that the electrode has a very high capacity. Each platinum atom can bond with four mercury atoms. Furthermore, the mercury atoms do not only bond on the surface, but also penetrate deeper into the material, creating thick layers. This means the electrode can be used for a long time. After use, it can be emptied in a controlled way. Thereby, the electrode can be recycled, and the mercury disposed of in a safe way. A further positive for this process is that it is very energy efficient.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Another great thing with our technique is that it is very selective. Even though there may be many different types of substance in the water, it just removes the mercury. Therefore, the electrode doesn’t waste capacity by unnecessarily taking away harmless substances from the water,” says Björn Wickman. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Patenting for the new method is being sought, and in order to commercialise the discovery, the company Atium has been setup. The new innovation has already been bestowed with a number of prizes and awards, both in Sweden and internationally. The research and the colleagues in the company have also had a strong response from industry. ​ </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We have already had positive interactions with a number of interested parties, who are keen to test the method. Right now, we are working on a prototype which can be tested outside the lab under real-world conditions.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, <a href="">​</a> </div> <div>and Joshua Worth, <a href=""> ​</a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read the article, <a href="">“Effective removal of mercury from aqueous streams via electrochemical alloy formation on platinum”​</a> in Nature Communications.</div> <div><br /></div> <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><span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Vattenrening_Bjorn_Wickman_Cristian_Tunsu_portratt_750x340_NY.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />​<span style="background-color:initial">Björn Wickman and Cristian Tunsu</span><span style="background-color:initial"> ​are pr</span><span style="background-color:initial">esenting a new and effective way of cleaning mercury from water. With the help of new technology, contaminated water can become clean enough to be well within the safe limits for drinkability. The results are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. ​</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Image: Mia Halleröd Palmgren</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Potential uses for the new method</h3> <div><ul><li>T<span style="background-color:initial">he technique could be used to reduce the amount of waste and increase the purity of waste and process water in the chemical and mining industries, and in metal production. </span></li></ul></div> <div><ul><li>It can contribute to better environmental cleaning of places with contaminated land and water sources.<br /></li></ul></div> <div><ul><li>​It <span style="background-color:initial">can even be used to clean drinking water in badly affected environments because, thanks to its low energy use, it can be powered totally by solar cells. Therefore, it can be developed into a mobile and reusable water cleaning technology. </span></li></ul></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">More on heavy metals in our environment</h3> <div>Heavy metals in water sources create enormous environmental problems and influence the health of millions of people around the world. Heavy metals are toxic for all living organisms in the food chain. According to the WHO, mercury is one of the most dangerous substances for human health, influencing our nervous system, brain development and more. The substance is especially dangerous for children and unborn babies. </div> <div>Today there are strict regulations concerning the management of toxic heavy metals to hinder their spread in nature. But there are many places worldwide which are already contaminated, and they can be transported in rain or in the air. This results in certain environments where heavy metals can become abundant, for example fish in freshwater sources. In industries where heavy metals are used, there is a need for better methods of recycling, cleaning and decontamination of the affected water. <span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">For more information</h3> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Björn-Wickman.aspx">Björn Wickman​</a></span>, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 51 79, <a href="">​</a></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><a href="/en/staff/Pages/tunsu.aspx">Cristian Tunsu</a></span>,  Post Doc, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering​, <span style="background-color:initial">Chalmers University of Technology, +46 </span><span style="background-color:initial">31 772 29 45, <a href=""></a></span></div></div> <div><div><div><span style="background-color:initial"></span></div></div></div>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 07:00:00 +0100 imitation reveals how bones grow atom-by-atom<p><b>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered how our bones grow at an atomic level, showing how an unstructured mass orders itself into a perfectly arranged bone structure. The discovery offers new insights, which could yield improved new implants, as well as increasing our knowledge of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.</b></p><p>​The bones in our body grow through several stages, with atoms and molecules joining together, and those bigger groupings joining together in turn. One early stage in the growth process is when calcium phosphate molecules crystallise, which means that they transform from an amorphous mass into an ordered structure. Many stages of this transformation were previously a mystery, but now, through a project looking at an imitation of how our bones are built, the researchers have been able to follow this crystallisation process at an atomic level. Their results are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. <br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Martin%20150.jpg" alt="" style="height:200px;width:150px;margin:5px" /><br />“A wonderful thing with this project is that it demonstrates how applied and fundamental research go hand in hand. Our project was originally focused on the creation of an artificial biomaterial, but the material turned out to be a great tool to study bone building processes. We first imitated nature, by creating an artificial copy. Then, we used that copy to go back and study nature,” says Martin Andersson, Professor in Materials Chemistry at Chalmers, and leader of the study. </p> <p><br />The researchers were developing a method of creating artificial bone through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. The resulting structure is built up in the same way, with the same properties, as real bone. Once fully developed, it will enable the formation of naturalistic implants, which could replace the metal and plastic technologies currently in use. As the team began to imitate natural bone tissue functions, they saw that they had created the possibility to study the phenomenon in a setting highly resembling the environment in living tissue. </p> <p><br />The team’s artificial bone-like substance mimicked the way real bone grows. The smallest structural building blocks in the skeleton are groups of strings consisting of the protein collagen. To mineralize these strings, cells send out spherical particles known as vesicles, which contain calcium phosphate. These vesicles release the calcium phosphate into confined spaces between the collagen strings. There, the calcium phosphate begins to transform from an amorphous mass into an ordered crystalline structure, which creates the bone’s characteristic features of remarkable resistance to shocks and bending. </p> <p><br />The researchers followed this cycle with the help of electron microscopes and now show in their paper how it happens at the atomic level. Despite the fact that bone crystallisation naturally occurs in a biological environment, it is not a biological process. Instead, calcium phosphate’s intrinsic physical characteristics define how it crystallises and builds up, following the laws of thermodynamics. The molecules are drawn to the <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Antiope%20150.jpg" alt="" style="height:200px;width:150px;margin:5px 10px" />place where the energy level is lowest, which results in it building itself into a perfectly crystallised structure.</p> <p><br />“Within the transmission electron microscope, we could follow the stages of how the material transformed itself into an ordered structure. This enables it to achieve as low an energy level as possible, and therefore a more stable state,” says Dr Antiope Lotsari, a researcher in Martin Andersson’s group, who conducted the electron microscopy experiments.</p> <p><br />The Chalmers researchers are the first to show in high resolution what happens when bones crystallise. The results could influence the way many common bone related illnesses are treated. </p> <p><br />“Our results could be significant for the treatment of bone disease such as osteoporosis, which today is a common illness, especially among older women. Osteoporosis is when there is an imbalance between how fast bones break down and are being re-formed, which are natural processes in the body,” says Martin Andersson. </p> <p><br />Current medicines for osteoporosis, which work through influencing this imbalance, could be improved with this new knowledge. The hope is that with greater precision, we will be able to evaluate the pros and cons of current medicines, as well as experiment with different substances to examine how they hinder or stimulate bone growth.</p> <p><br />The article “<a href="">Transformation of amorphous calcium phosphate to bone-like apatite</a>” is published now in Nature Communications. <br /></p>Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 study on radium - one of the least explored basic elements<p><b>​Radium is one of the most radiotoxic elements and is very hard to do research on because of its nature. Since the 1930’s the scientific achievements within this field have practically been absent, due to this fact. Now PhD student Artem Matyskin defends his thesis on the solubility of some radium compounds.​</b></p>​<span>In the different waste streams, for example, repository of nuclear waste there will always parts of Radium. Due to its high radioactivity it is considered as a high risk for the environment, if it would leak. To know more about what would happen if Radium would pour out in nature Artem Matyskin has investigated the solubility of radium sulfate and carbonate.<br /><br /></span><strong>What is your thesis about?</strong><div>I have focused on radium. It has no stable isotopes so it is a very rare laboratory material, but we got our material from the Sahlgrenska hospital in Gothenburg, where it has been used for cancer treatment in the beginning of the last century. Nowadays radium is not used for cancer treatment anymore. This is waste now and it is very highly radioactive. <img width="632" height="698" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Artem Matyskin" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Artem%20Matyskin/artem_matyskin%20(1%20of%201).jpg" style="width:202px;margin:5px" /><br /><br /><strong>Why do you research this field? </strong></div> <div>Radium decays very slowly. Its half-life is 1600 years and at the same time it is very toxic. If you have a nuclear waste repository, you will, after a few thousand years also have significant amounts of radium in it because of other materials decaying and becoming radium. If the repository is damaged and the radium leaks there might be severe consequences for the surrounding area. Since there are plans to build final nuclear waste repository in Sweden and radium will be present in these repositories, there is a discussion about what will happen in case of leakage and water intrusion into the nuclear waste and the studies are financed by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. My study is a part of the long-term safety assessment. <br /><br /><strong>What did you do?</strong></div> <div>I investigated the solubility of radium sulfate and carbonate.  The data is very limited since it is so hard to get radium so there is not so much discovered around radium. I have worked with radium sulfate and radium carbonite because sulphate and carbonate are very common in nature and likely to bond to radium and precipitate, so when the radium reaches sulphite or carbonite my theory was that it will stop there. The most demanding parts of my work has been safety. To secure a totally safe conduction of my experiments has always been first priority, since the consequences of a mistake might cause severe damage. </div> <div><br /><strong>Tell us about your results!</strong></div> <div>Because of the rareness of radium as a laboratory material for studies I have had much that seem fundamental and long since known when it comes to other basic elements, yet to discover. So even if measuring the solubility of a basic compounds seems simple, it really isn’t when it comes to radium. My results show that radium easily precipitate with sulphate, which means that a leakage of radium into the ground very likely would result in much precipitation of radium sulfate, since sulphate is very common in the earth crust. Regarding radium carbonate there wasn’t any tests to compare with so these results are completely new. They show that the solubility of radium carbonate is very high, which means that the precipitation of radium and carbonite is very limited. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mats Tiborn</div> <div><br /></div>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100’s-Grand-prix-finale.aspx student at Chalmers to Researcher’s Grand prix finale<p><b>​Gustav Ferrand-Drake del Castillo, PhD student at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, is qualified to the finale in the popular science presentation contest “Researcher’s Grand prix”. The finale is held November 27.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">In his research he imitates nature by creating small spaces which mimic the cell-like environment for enzymes. In brief, the research is focused on  developing materials on which enzymes retain their function, while also controlling their activity and how to make different enzymes co-operate in chain reactions. The final goal is to use enzymes in a smarter way, which could lead to more environmentally friendly synthesis of chemicals or improved medical treatments in the future.<br /><br /></span><div><strong>What have you learned from preparing for the competition?</strong></div> <div>&quot;How to summarize my research, which I have worked on for many years now, in under four minutes. Being a detail-oriented person, it is a challenge for me to describe my work briefly and in terms of concepts.  This competition has taught me how important it is to have a clear message which reaches out to more than just my colleagues at work.&quot;</div> <div><br /><strong>What made you participate in the Grand Prix competition?</strong></div> <div>&quot;I was inspired by my supervisor Andreas Dahlin to participate. Andreas has also competed in popular science presentations, in fact he is European champion! &quot;</div> <div><br /><strong>How do you plan to win?</strong></div> <div>&quot;I want to engage my audience and at the same time spread knowledge about how cool science is and what we can use it for. I will use items and products I found at home as props. All of the products contain or have been manufactured using enzymes, like for instance gluten-free beer, washing detergent and tablets for those who are lactose intolerant.&quot;</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mats Tiborn</div> <div><br /></div> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 funding for a self-standing droplet<p><b>​Romain Bordes and Lars Nordstierna, specialist and Associate Professor at Chemistry and Chemical Engineering receive SSF funding for NMR based research on what happens inside a droplet. SSF distributes more than SEK 236 million to 33 different projects to promote the development of instruments, methods and technologies that provide the prerequisites for future, advanced research and innovation. The 33 projects receive between four and eight million kronor each.</b></p><p><strong><img width="150" height="212" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Audio description: Photo Lars Nordstierna." src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Romain%20och%20Lars/Lars%20Nordstierna%20150.jpg" style="height:198px;width:140px;margin:10px 5px" /><img width="150" height="210" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Audio description: photo Romain Bordes." src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Romain%20och%20Lars/Romain%20Bordes%20150.jpg" style="height:196px;width:140px;margin:10px 5px" />Hi Romain and Lars. The project is about studying water in a very unusual </strong><strong>way.</strong><strong> Please tell us more.</strong><br />NMR-Lev will apply, for the first time, the analytical power of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy to a perfectly immobile, and self-standing droplet, thanks to the latest breakthrough in acoustic levitation. It will allow resolving, in detail, processes taking place in single droplet, free of any interaction with a disturbing surface, in terms of structure and chemistry, as function of time.<br />The challenge is to fit a device that enables levitation into a high field magnet. To reach this objective, the project will focus on adapting a miniaturized acoustic levitation device inside a high-field magnet and on developing compatible NMR methodologies. </p> <div><strong></strong> </div> <div><strong>How impo</strong><strong>rtant is the grant?</strong><br />The grant is 8MSEK and will cover the project cost for 3 years.<br />For a long time, NMR has occupied a central position in the analytical arsenal, both on the academic and on the industrial side. However, and despite major innovations such as the capacity of imaging, the way of introducing the samples in the magnet has nearly not changed and still remains archaic. NMR-Lev will add a new dimension by allowing the introduction of a container-less sample in the high field magnet, thus opening for new NMR optimization and studying advance processes in real time while avoiding the negative impact of the presence of a container.</div> <div><strong></strong> </div> <div><strong>What will you use it for?</strong><br />With the implementation of this technique we will be able to study, for instance, the drying processes of a single component system while monitoring water mass transport, the in-situ gelling of droplets, or the <br /><br />mechanism of protein crystallization in an individual confinement. This technique development of acoustic levitation implemented in NMR will directly benefit a variety of industrially relevant research in materials science, industrial processing, life science, and medical technology. During the preparation of the proposal, we have received a very important support from industrial partners such AstraZeneca or Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals),</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>What are your hopes about future applications of your research?</strong><br />We believe that integrating industrial partners from the beginning is the key to efficient implementation. In addition, benchmarking the methodology with concrete case studies will enable reaching other areas where the project results find application. We have already identified four major industrial areas of potential use, which are food science, pharmaceutics, materials science and biotechnology. For these industries NMR is already an integrated tool and implementing NMR-Lev will enable keeping their position at the forefront of development. Science of droplet finds application well beyond the chemical industry, and other fields of research could be envisioned such as atmospheric and aerosol science.</div> <div><br /> </div>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200,-but-no-one-dares-take-the-first-step.aspx,-but-no-one-dares-take-the-first-step.aspxCarbon dioxide capture: technology exists, but no one dares take the first step<p><b>​It is possible to stop at 1.5 degrees warming of the planet, the IPCC claims in a new report, but few believe it will happen. In order to succeed, carbon dioxide capture has to scale up. Chalmers has the technology, but who dares take the first step to commercialize?</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">In the UN climate panel, the IPCC report describes how we not only need to reduce the rate of emissions but, in the long run, also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This means that we need to capture carbon dioxide. Chalmers conducts research in the field and has reached far. One of the researchers in the field is Henrik Leion, Associate Professor at Chalmers Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.</span><div><br /></div> <div>&quot;We must start catching all carbon dioxide, regardless of fuel. Right now we are working with biofuels. The fossil fuels already work well to capture. The technology for this is available. What prevents us is primarily economy and legislations.<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Koldioxidinfångning/Henrik%20Leionweb.png" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Photo of Henrik Leion" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /></div> <div>The technique Henrik Leion researches and develops is based on oxygen-bearing solids that replace combustion of oxygen as a gas. His research is part of several projects around a technology called CLC, which stands for chemical looping combustion. In most cases, the heat is generated in power plants through combustion in air. This forms carbon dioxide mixed with another type of gas, depending on technology, and gases are difficult to separate from each other. In order to get as clean a stream of carbon dioxide as possible, CLC uses a solid material where oxygen is included as an oxide, for example ordinary rust. Instead, water and carbon dioxide are created, which are easier to distinguish from each other. When the oxygen on the oxygen carrier is consumed, it is exposed to air and the material is then reoxidized and reusable.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Research at Chalmers within CLC is conducted jointly by several research groups across institutional boundaries. Henrik Leion looks at how oxygen carrier and fuel can be optimized.</div> <div>As the situation is now, it is not enough to capture only carbon dioxide from fossil sources. Also carbon dioxide from bio combustion must be collected in order to achieve negative net emissions.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>&quot;We will need to capture carbon dioxide to a very large extent. Emissions must begin to sink within just a few years, and if we do not do that now, it means that around 2050, we will have to catch more carbon dioxide than we release to compensate for what we did not do 30 years earlier, he says. <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Koldioxidinfångning/Järnoxidweb.png" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Iron oxide being poured into a bowl" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">CLC is primarily a technology that can work at stationary facilities. Capture involves heavy loads. Not only does the oxygen carrier consist of some kind of metal. The carbon dioxide collected weighs about three times more than the fuel, which in itself would mean increased emissions for a vehicle due to the weight.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Economy and legislation impede</strong></div> <div>Thus, CLC could be of great use if it was used at commercial level. But yet nobody dares to take the financial risk to invest in the technology. So far, it has been tested in the Chalmers test facility of 12 megawatts with successful results. But a major effort is required for technology to come through, believes Henrik Leion.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Someone must dare to test the technology in a 50 megawatt facility. This will probably mean losing money initially, but the technology needs this to be further developed, he believes.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In addition, it must be cheaper to use the technology. The price must be able to compete with carbon credits. Today, a carbon credit, ie the right to release a ton of carbon dioxide, costs about 20 euros. CLC is slightly more expensive, but could, with a bigger initiative, become cheaper. If it is cheaper to collect carbon dioxide than to release it into the atmosphere, chances are that the industry will invest in the technology. In addition, CLC requires that large parts of the combustion system is rebuilt. Another problem is the storage.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>&quot;There is no logistics and legislation to deposit carbon dioxide. It takes about 10,000 years for the gas to be converted into limestone. Carbon dioxide is not very dangerous, it is not comparable to nuclear waste, but we talk about huge amounts here, says Henrik Leion.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A legislative problem is the question of liability. Who will be responsible for the storage for 10,000 years? It has also proved difficult to find places where governments and populations accept storage. Another way to store the greenhouse gas is to pump it into drained oil sources at sea. It is expensive and lacks logistics, but it may be necessary.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Must be put into use</strong></div> <div>Any type of capture technique must be taken into use. Without capture techniques, climate targets will not be reached. What is needed, Henrik says, is that a major energy company dares to test the technology at the commercial level. That company must be ready to lose money. Somewhere, money will probably be lost, but it may be something we have to accept to avoid a significantly higher temperature rise. Without capture, we do not have a chance to stop the temperature rise at 2 degrees, Henrik says who soon will be off for parental leave.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>&quot;To be honest, it is frankly not morally easy for me to take a break from the research in this situation. My way of handling my climate depression is to work”, he says. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text and photo: Mats Tiborn</div> <div><br /></div>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200 recruits 17 employees<p><b>​WWSC is moving into the next phase. The research programme is now looking for 17 new employees – at the same time. “In WWSC, you will be involved in developing sustainable materials for the future”, says Professor Lisbeth Olsson.</b></p>​By the end of last year, Wallenberg Wood Science Center – WWSC – received further funding for its research on the production of sustainable materials from forest raw material. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation then announced that they would continue to support the research programme, which then changed its name to WWSC 2.0, with up to 400 million SEK over the upcoming decade.<br /><br />Three universities – Chalmers University of Technology, KTH and Linköping University – invest a total of 22 million SEK per year in PhD positions and working hours. The forest industry also contribute an additional 100 million SEK over the ten-year period, channeled through the TreeSearch initiative, creating a research environment where more applied research is also conducted.<br /><br />Today, 17 positions on WWSC 2.0 are advertised. The positions are distributed over five Chalmers departments: Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Physics, Industrial and Materials Science, and Microtechnology and Nanoscience.<br /><br />The research center, which became a world leader during the first ten years, seeks both doctoral students and post docs to contribute to the fundamental research conducted, and aimed at adding further knowledge to the production of new sustainable materials.<br /><br />”We have formed a new research programme and everything is in place. That’s why we are hiring as many as 17 people at the same time”, explains Lisbeth Olsson, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering where three positions are announced, and also the head of WWSC’s activities at Chalmers in the new programme.<br /><br />”In the first programme, we built a very strong research school, headed by Professor Paul Gatenholm here at Chalmers. We have developed an interesting multidisciplinary environment and a strong collaboration between Chalmers and KTH. The research programme has enabled research on new materials from the forest to be deepened, and has resulted in many new achievements and opportunities for applications.”<br /><br />WWSC offers the possibility to work in a unique research environment in close cooperation with the involved universities, with specialized equipment and the ability to participate in developing innovative and environmentally friendly materials from forest raw materials, according to Lisbeth Olsson.<br /><br />Read more <a href="">about the recruitments here</a>!<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Johan Bodell<br />Thu, 11 Oct 2018 17:00:00 +0200