Monthly Archives: January 2012

Battery to power public transport

A company based in Oxford has developed a battery to power a public transport vehicle that is able to drive itself. Cybergo uses a combination of GPS, lasers and cameras to navigate without the aid of a driver.



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The classical way to carry out IR spectroscopy is to scan the frequency of the incoming light so that the detector can record changes in the light intensity for those frequencies at which the sample absorbs energy. A major disadvantage of this method is that the detector records meaningful information only  while the scan is passing through absorption lines, while most of the time is spent scanning between lines when the detector has nothing to record.  To over come this deficiency, modern IR spectrometers irradiate the sample with a broad band of frequencies simultaneously and then carry out a mathematicsl analysis of the resulting signal called a FOURIER TRANSFORMATION to convert the detected signal back into the classical form of the spectrum. The resulting signal is called a Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrum.

FTIR of ICONs (Ashmolean Museum)

FT-IR is a method of analysing the composition of organic materials based on the fact that every chemical bond has a characteristic energy level. In FT-IR an infrared laser beam is focused on a small sample from the object, which then absorbs energy. The energy that has not been absorbed is detected and displayed on a graph (spectrum) as a series of peaks. These peaks each represent particular chemical bond energies, enabling a conservation scientist to identify the chemical structure of the sample.

The Fourier transform technique is also widely used in  nuclear magnetic resonance, to be discusseed below, öand in other branches of spectroscopy. Its initial use was in X-ray diffraction crystallography.

Water mark on a sheet of paper used by Rembrandt (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Univ)

Ref: Frank Owens, Charles Poole, Phyics and Chemistry of Nanosolids, WILEY, pp 67, (539 pages) 2009

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Imaging and Analysis Centre at the Natural History Museum London

The Natural History Museum’s versatile Imaging and Analysis Centre contains an extensive range of sophisticated instruments that can be used for a wide variety of research purposes.

It is staffed by specialists experienced in the preparation and analysis of:

  • geological samples including mineral specimens
  • biological samples
  • synthetic materials




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How the atomic structure of Carbon nanotube changes under strain from bending?

Jamie H.Warner, Neil P. Young, Angus I. Kirkland and G. Andrew D. Briggs, Resolving strain in carbon nanotubes at the atomic level, Nature Materials, Vol 10, Dec 2011- (Oxford University)

Understanding the mechanical properties of nanomaterials at the atomic-scale is of great importance for their utilization in nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), especially in light of the recent observation of quantum phenomena on the macroscopic scale. Suspended SWNTs, with their remarkably high tensile strengths and elasticity, are ideal oscillators for NEMS and predicting their resonant frequency characteristics accurately requires the incorporation of shear strain, such as in the Timoshenko beam model, or possibly even non-local strain models.

The incorporation of aberration correctors into transmission electron microscopes has opened up a new field in performing atomic-resolution microscopy at low accelerating voltages. This has been revolutionary for carbon nanomaterials, where a low accelerating voltage of 80 kV is needed to reduce knock-on damage to sp2 carbon nanomaterials such as SWNTs, graphene, fullerenes and peapods. The ability to resolve carbon lattice structure with high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) enables information to be determined that reveals defects, holes and layer stacking in graphene. In carbon nanotubes HRTEM has been used to determine the chirality of SWNTs and double-walled carbon nanotubes as well as see lattice defects.

Until now there has been a lack of experimental evidence regarding how the atomic structure of a carbon nanotube changes under strain from bending. For large bending angles, buckling of the SWNT is observed. However in most cases SWNTs are well below their buckling limit and only slightly distorted in their shape. Resolving strain at the atomic level is at the forefront of structural characterization using aberration-corrected HRTEM.

Read More……


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Methods of Measuring Properties of Nanostructures by magnetic resonance

Magnetic resonance is a branch of spectroscopy that has provided information on nanostructures, involving the study of microwave (radar frequency) and radio frequency transitions.

Several types of magnetic resonance are:

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) involving the interaction of a nucleus possessing a nonzero nuclear spin I…

…the fact that C60 with 12 regular pentagons and 20 hexagons have all of its carbon atoms equivalent,  was determined unequivocally by the 13C NMR spectrum. In contrast to this, the rugby-ball C70 fullerence molecule, has five tzpes of carbon, and this is confirmed by the 13C NMR spectrum.

Electron Spin resonance detects unpaired electrons in transition ions, specially those with oddd numbrs of electrons suc as C2+ (3d9). Free Radicals like those associated with defects or radiation damage can also be detecte. The energies or resonant frequencies are three orders of magnitude higher than NMR for the same magnetic field.

Electron paramagnetic resonance utilized to study conduction electrons in metal nanoparticles, and to detect the presence of conduction electrons in nanotubes to determine whether the tubes are metals or very narrowband semiconductors. The technique was employed to identify trapped oxygen holes in colloidal TiO2 semiconductor nanoclusters. It has also been helpful in clarifying spin-flip resonance trasitions and Landau bands in quantum dots.

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The first donor was Hydrogen and the first acceptor CO2

Despite thermodynamic, bioenergetic and phylogenetic failings, the 81-year-old concept of primordial soup remains central to mainstream thinking on the origin of life. But soup is homogeneous in pH and redox potential, and so has no capacity for energy coupling by

Thermodynamic constraints make chemiosmosis strictly necessary for carbon and energy metabolism in all free-living chemotrophs, and presumably the first free-living cells too.

Proton gradients form naturally at alkaline hydrothermal vents and are viewed as central to the origin of life. Here we consider how the earliest cells might have harnessed a geochemically created proton-motive force and then learned to make their own, a transition that was necessary for their escape from the vents. Synthesis of ATP by chemiosmosis today involves generation of an ion gradient by means of vectorial electron transfer from a donor to an acceptor.We argue that the first donor was hydrogen and the first acceptor CO2.

Nick Lane, John F. Allen, and William Martin, How did LUCA make a living? Chemiosmosis in the origin of life, BioEssays 32:271–280,  2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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