Fysikforskning på IVA:s 100-lista för 2020
Two research projects from the Department of Physics at Chalmers are highlighted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering (IVA).​​​
​Illustrations: Ella Marushchenko, Björn Wickman and Adam Arvidsson​​​

Physics innovations in the spotlight

An ultrafast nanosensor to minimise the risks of hydrogen, and a sustainable method for removing mercury from contaminated water. When the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering (IVA) presented its 100 list for 2020, two of the selected projects are from the Department of Physics at Chalmers. 
​Behind the innovations are Christoph Langhammer’s and Björn Wickman's research groups. 

“It feels great to be presenting a sensor that can hopefully be a part of a major breakthrough for hydrogen-powered vehicles,” says Professor Christoph Langhammer. 

IVA selects current research projects to make it easier for researchers and companies to find each other to create innovation and new business opportunities.
This year's list focuses on research that links to sustainability.
“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. ​

Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, mia.hallerodpalmgren@chalmers.se​



Read more on Björn Wickman's project: 

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water by using electrochemical alloys​ 

Björn Wickman and his research group are developing a new technique to remove toxic mercury from water. Heavy metals in water sources create enormous environmental problems and influence the health of millions of people around the world. The new method makes it possible to reduce the mercury content in a liquid by more than 99 percent.  This can bring the water well within the margins for safe human consumption. 
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. The process is very energy efficient and the method is selective. ​


For more information, contact: 
Björn Wickman​, researcher, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 51 79, bjorn.wickman@chalmers.se​​


Read more on Christoph Langhammer's project: 

Ultrafast nanosensor to minimise the risks of hydrogen 

Hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier that can power vehicles, with water as the only emission. Unfortunately, hydrogen gas is highly flammable when mixed with air, so very efficient and effective sensors are needed.  Therefore, Christoph Langhammer and his research group have developed the first hydrogen sensor in the world that is capable of detecting 0.1 percent hydrogen in the air in less than a second. The innovation is based on an optical sensor technique that could increase hydrogen vehicle safety. The sensor could also be of interest for the chemical industry and help improve medical diagnostics. In the long run, the hope is that the sensor can be manufactured in series in an efficient manner, for example using 3D printer technology.


For more information, contact: 
Christoph Langhammer, Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 33 31, ​ clangham@chalmers.se


Published: Wed 24 Jun 2020.