Archive for the ‘Portfolio’ category

A quick update of what I have been up to

February 25, 2011

First of all, I’d like to apologise to my readers for the ridiculously long absence. I have been busy – honest. A lot of what I have been doing involved helping to organise things for the British Science Association National Science and Engineering Week – this event that we are running in the Grafton Centre, Cambridge should be very exciting. We have lots of new (to us) experiments on the (loose) theme of communication. Do stop by and see what we are up to if you are in the area.

It being the start of spring, I’ve also been busy in the garden. Sort of science, sort of muddy fun….

And finally, I have written and published several nice stories on various topics (but mainly graphene):

How to spot monolayers – Question: how can you tell if your boron nitride layer is a monolayer or two or three layers overlaid? Answer: with this easy Raman technique developed by graphene kings Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov’s group.

Gold nanoparticle network growth – metal nanoparticle systems are being used extensively and increasingly in biological, chemical and physical studies, so understanding what makes them tick is really important.

Bionanoelectronics – no Frankenstein –  a neat summary of how bioelectronics is being used today and how it will/could/should revolutionise the world tomorrow.

Graphene tracks for aluminum trains – I thought this was cool. Basically a graphene surface was modified with electronic contacts such that a cluster of Al can be moved along it and even made to turn corners on it. (And an apology for the spelling of aluminium here – Wiley require US spellings so that is what I used – but I particularly dislike this one!)

Speed dating for pharmaceuticals – a computational study that could be really handy for those med chemists trying to find the best way to deliver drugs (or ways to repatent old ones) – it calculates the strength of all hydrogen bonds in the crystal of an active component and a co-crystal partner and comes up with what would make the most likely partners.

Hope you like these, enjoy!

More Nano-News and a Merry Xmas to all

December 23, 2010

A round-up of some more stories I wrote for Materials Views recently:

DNA Fragments Throw Light on Nuclease Activity A neat use of carbon nanotubes. Not sure how widely useful it will be but I liked the simplicity for this system. It’s always more appealing to have a visible change in detecting something invisible to the naked eye.

Nano is Super: How to Make Supercapacitors from Nanomaterials New approaches to energy storage and transport are definitely required if we are going to solve the energy crisis. Instead of thinking how we can solve problems using small improvements to existing methods, it can be more useful to think of new ways to approach the same problem, which is what these guys have done.

Nontoxic Nanoparticles yet another blow for those who side with Prince Charles and believe that nanotechnology will kill us all.

I want to thank all the readers of my blog over the past year for taking the time to look in and see what’s going on. I’m especially grateful for any comments or feedback. It’s nice to see that there are others interested in the view from the Giant’s shoulders, and I haven’t fallen off yet either! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011. May it bring lots of good science and even more good communication of that science.

Lucky dip

November 25, 2010

Two new stories of mine on hybrid electrolytes and a new way to dye biodegradable polymers, have appeared on the Chemistry World website. And a couple on Materials Views on nanoplasmonics, nanomemory, and super strong nanocontacts.Quite a mix!

When is news not news?

October 29, 2010

I started thinking about this after being given a job by my friends at Chemistry World. The paper seemed quite cool and speaking with the author about it really enthused me, but then I spoke to another expert on the field and my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened.

I still think the paper and the idea in it is pretty cool – solve the problem of electrolyte migration in Li ion batteries by tethering the electrolytes. This makes better batteries that can last for longer and are safer than conventional Li ion batteries. Li ion batteries can hold a lot more charge than other sorts of batteries so working with them could be a good idea. Although no-one here has addressed the problem that Li resources may be running out so how do we make the batteries then? I guess that’s someone else’s problem.

The issue pointed out by the other expert is that only part of the electrolyte is tethered. Oh yes and apparently they’ve only tested the system at between 100th to 1000th of the operation current of a real Li ion battery. Issues that may have been easily resolved pre-publication with a couple more experiments – but then such is the way of peer review.

My problem was then is this story still worth publishing as news? I think yes, as it does further science and is a neat new concept, but it certainly doesn’t have the impact that it might have done and a lot of lay-people might not understand that this one experiment cannot really hope to solve all our battery concerns. They might read this and think the advances had already been made, or alternatively read this and think we are still a long way from the perfect battery (which would be true, though we may be closer now than we were).

I liked the concept so I think it is worth bringing to a wider audience, you may not agree. Anyhow the story appeared here so you can judge for yourselves whether it is newsworthy or not.

Logic gates take the strain and various surface modifications

September 14, 2010

Some more of my work has appeared on Materials Views….

A story on a paper by ZL Wang and co-workers on smart logic gates that can be operated by simply bending the substrate. This story made it to the MaterialsViews newsletter as headline – it’s a nice piece of work but I would like to think that my write-up also had something to do with this!

A piece on single layers of quantum dots arranged on a surface, and another on stripey patterns on a surface by the use of combined top-down and bottom-up approaches.

To be honest I wrote these so long ago I can’t remember much about them but I think they were pretty good papers. The piezotronic switching logic gate I remember slightly better and this was pretty cool. Enjoy.

Small things on surfaces.

September 3, 2010

A couple more of my pieces are now live on the MaterialsViews website, Nano Channel. Here you can read about work to exploit all 3 dimensions of a patterned photoresist from the ubiquitous Whitesides group, and also a method for focussed nanopatterning. Both, basically, discuss how to make small things on surfaces.

Wet weather wear and nanosprings going for gold

August 17, 2010

Just an update on a couple of stories I wrote recently for Chemistry World. Here are links to a piece about a nice JACS paper on gold nanowires that are coiled up into ordered coils  by means of encapsulation in a polymer micelle, and a lovely J. Mater. Chem. (excellent journal!) paper about directional water transport within a porous fabric. These were two of my favourite papers that I have seen in a while, science-wise (I was saddened that the quality of copy-editing in the latter paper was somewhat sub-standard as I didn’t feel it did either the author or the journal justice).