Upcoming Events

From Order to Disorder: NMR Insights into Ionic Conduction in Battery Solid Electrolytes

Tue01
Feb

18:15

From Order to Disorder: NMR Insights into Ionic Conduction in Battery Solid Electrolytes

Prof. Raphaele Clément
18:15, Tuesday 1 February 2022

Join us for a talk by Prof. Clément, who researches the structure-property relationships in electrochemical materials used in rechargeable batteries!
Abstract:
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy provides detailed insights into the working principles of ionic and mixed conductors used in rechargeable battery applications. Notably, NMR is sensitive to crystalline, disordered or even amorphous phases that arise during electrochemical cycling, and can provide atomic-level structural information, as well as insights into the dynamics of ion motion. In this talk, I will present our recent work on Li- and Na-ion conducting rocksalt halides and Li-conducting polymeric ionic liquids. Using a combination of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), solid-state NMR, pulsed field gradient NMR (PFG-NMR), NMR relaxometry, and first principles calculations, we provide a multiscale understanding of ion diffusion processes and link these findings to local structure features, crystallinity, and materials synthesis/processing conditions.

Sebum Based Metabolomics: A Quest for my Tricorder

Thu03
Feb

18:15

Sebum Based Metabolomics: A Quest for my Tricorder

Dr Drupad Trivedi
18:15, Thursday 3 February 2022

Join us for an enthusiastic talk by Dr Drupad Trivedi, a biomedical scientist fascinated by ever evolving analytical chemistry and chemometrics approaches! This talk is sponsored by the SCI London Group!
Synopsis:
Fascination with a StarTrek tricorder has led to a curious quest for building one. To build one for each one of us molecules closest to the phenotype are our best hope. Metabolome consists of such small molecules (metabolites) present in a particular system, representing its phenotype. Out of many biofluids that contain these molecules, sebum is a rarely studied biofluid. Sebum acts as a sink to many small molecules that are either endogenously produced or result from changing skin microbiota that interacts with wax, lipids and esters – the key components of sebum. In Parkinson’s disease and tuberculosis, these small molecules often produce a distinct smell that can diagnose the disease. In recent studies, we have linked sebum metabolome to odorous volatile compounds and lipid dysregulation that can occur due to disease-related perturbations in Parkinson’s disease and also in COVID-19 – from non-invasive, ambient sampling. These findings accelerate the quest for tricorder.

Yukawa coupling between the Higgs boson and tau leptons with the CMS experiment at CERN

Tue08
Feb

18:15

Yukawa coupling between the Higgs boson and tau leptons with the CMS experiment at CERN

Mohammad Hassanshahi
18:15, Tuesday 8 February 2022

Join us for an engaging talk by Mohammad Hassanshahi, a final-year PhD student in the High Energy Physics group of Imperial College London. He has been working with the CERN's CMS experiment for 7 years!
Synopsis:
After the discovery of the Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012, there has been a large effort to measure its properties as any deviation from the Standard Model (SM) prediction is a sign of new physics. Among the Higgs boson properties, the charge conjugate-parity (CP) is of great importance as a deviation from a pure CP-even scenario could explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry in our Universe and is also predicted by several beyond-the-SM theories.
In this talk, I will present the result of the first direct measurement of the CP nature of the Yukawa coupling between the Higgs boson and tau leptons which is performed by the CMS experiment. A number of machine learning techniques were developed to identify the Higgs boson, tau leptons and tau lepton decay modes. Our result excludes a pure CP-odd scenario by 3.2 standard deviations.

Sensitive and Selective Bioanalysis using SERS and SESORS 

Wed09
Feb

13:00

Sensitive and Selective Bioanalysis using SERS and SESORS 

Prof Karen Faulds
13:00, Wednesday 9 February 2022

ABSTRACT:

  

Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is an analytical technique with several advantages over competitive techniques in terms of improved sensitivity and multiplexing. We have made great progress in the development of SERS as a quantitative analytical method. Many bioanalytical detection methods exist, with fluorescence spectroscopy tending to dominate, however SERS has the advantage that it is both sensitive and has the ability to multiplex which is limited when using techniques such as fluorescence. We have developed approaches to both identify and quantify the presence of multiple analytes within a mixture e.g. pathogenic DNA sequences, bacteria using SERS combined with data analysis techniques.   

  

Here we demonstrate the development of new bioanalytical assays based upon SERS which have been used successfully for the detection of bacterial pathogens using modified SERS active probes. Biomolecule functionalised nanoparticles have been designed to give a specific SERS response resulting in discernible differences in the SERS which can be correlated to the presence of specific pathogens. In this presentation the simultaneous detection and quantitation of 3 pathogens within a multiplex sample will be demonstrated. We also explore the use of functionalized nanoparticles for the phenotypic screening of breast cancer cells and to study the effect of drug treatment on receptor status. The uptake of targeted versus non-targeted nanoparticles in breast cancer spheroids using a microfluidics approach will also be discussed. We have also recently published the use of nanoparticles functionalised with resonant Raman reporter molecule for the visualization of a 3D breast cancer tumour models at depth using Spatially Offset Raman combined with SERRS (SESORRS).  

Unusual Chemistry from Cyanobacteria

Tue22
Feb

18:15

Unusual Chemistry from Cyanobacteria

Dr Pedro Leao
18:15, Tuesday 22 February 2022

ABSTRACT:
Nature has come up with ingenious ways to generate structural diversity. This is particularly evident when we look at the plethora of naturally-produced small molecules (natural products) and their intricate, complex structures. Continuous discovery efforts are key to harnessing this structural richness and the catalytic diversity of the associated biosynthetic enzymes. Our research group focuses on cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) - a ubiquitous group of bacteria that carry out oxygenic photosynthesis. As more and more cyanobacterial genomes are sequenced, it becomes evident that these microorganisms contain an arsenal of fatty-acid modifying enzymes. Over the years, we have tapped into this particular feature of cyanobacteria, devising ways to uncover new natural products and to bring to light new enzymatic reactions associated with fatty acid metabolism. In this talk, I’ll provide recent examples from our group on the discovery of i) unusual natural products containing fatty acid-derived residues and ii) new enzymes that incorporate or modify such residues. I’ll briefly show how each of these two types of discoveries enables the other and provide an outlook of the tremendous amount of chemical and enzymatic diversity that is still unknown in these organisms.

Managing Your Mental Health: A Conversation I wish​ I could have with my younger self.

Thu24
Feb

18:15

Managing Your Mental Health: A Conversation I wish​ I could have with my younger self.

Dr Zoe Ayres
18:15, Thursday 24 February 2022

Often there, rarely discussed, this talk will cover some of the key stressors that impact the mental health of PhD researchers, postdoctoral staff, through to professorship. This talk focuses on raising awareness of the issues that people may face, as well as providing practical tips for navigating the often difficult path through the academic landscape, both as individuals and at an institutional level.
Zoë is an analytical scientist by background, with an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science, Masters in analytical chemistry and PhD in electrochemical sensor development. After spending several years in academia post-PhD, she moved to industry, and is now an analytical Senior Scientist in the water industry. Zoë is also is a mental health advocate in her spare time, working towards improving mental health in research settings, primarily focusing on academic mental health. She raises awareness of the common issues people face throughout academia through various campaigns, talks and initiatives, and is the author of the #mentalhealth poster series on Twitter.
This event is open only to the MAPS Faculty of UCL. You should receive an email containing a private eventbrite link. If you have not received this but would like to register, please email uccacps@live.ucl.ac.uk

Bioelectronics in Tissue Engineering and Disease Modelling

Tue01
Mar

18:15

Bioelectronics in Tissue Engineering and Disease Modelling

Prof Brian Timko
18:15, Tuesday 1 March 2022

Join us for a talk led by Prof Brian Timko, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University. This talk is sponsored by the SCI London Group!
Hybrid bioelectronic systems offer a unique route toward achieving two-way electronic communication with living cells and tissues. Recent advances in bioelectronics and bioactive materials have enabled multiplexed, stable and seamless interfaces with surrounding cells and tissues, representing a distinct advantage over conventional systems such as patch clamp and optical dyes. We will first present an overview of our recent heart-on-a-chip platform which integrated both extra- and intracellular devices for monitoring cardiac electrophysiology during episodes of acute hypoxia. This system allowed us to monitor not only cell-cell communication (e.g., wavefront propagation) but also action potentials at several spatially-distinct regions simultaneously. Our platform provided a unique route toward understanding the role of hypoxia on ion channel dynamics. For example, we found that APs narrowed during hypoxia, consistent with proposed mechanisms by which oxygen deficits activate ATP-dependent K+ channels that promote membrane repolarization. We will next discuss routes toward extending our bioelectronic platform to 3D, enabling new classes of hybrid, devices-embedded tissues. We developed a Photo-crosslinkable Silk Fibroin (PSF) derivative which was compatible with conventional photolithography processes and enabled flexible scaffolds with well-defined geometries and cm-scale uniformity. Our freestanding PSF-based scaffolds supported bioelectronic devices, provided excellent electrical passivation, and adhered both cardiac and neuron model cells, opening new avenues toward engineered brain hybrids. We will also present recent work to develop electromagnetic stimulation elements for spatially-selective cellular activation. Taken together, these research directions open new avenues for engineered, bioelectronics-innervated cardiac and brain systems. We will discuss prospects for merging our bioelectronic devices with state-of-the-art tissue engineering techniques.

International Women’s Day

Tue08
Mar

18:15

International Women’s Day

Jessica Wade
18:15, Tuesday 8 March 2022

Join us for a talk led by Jessica Wade for International Women's Day!

“Science and storytelling: how who we talk about matters.”

Despite women leading the development of the Moderna, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, only half of UK adults can name a woman scientist. That’s not entirely surprising given the GCSE national curriculum for science doesn’t include a single woman’s name. Jess will talk about how who we talk about matters and how we can make our science classrooms more inclusive spaces. She’ll also discuss her efforts to increase visibility of scientists from historically marginalised groups on Wikipedia, her research in materials science and nanotechnology, the power of social media for early career researchers and her new picture book ‘Nano, the Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small,’.

Presidential Talk: Stradivarius Crystal Clear

Tue22
Mar

18:15

Presidential Talk: Stradivarius Crystal Clear

Dr Kreso Bucar
18:15, Tuesday 22 March 2022

Join us for a incredible talk by our president for 2021-22, Dr Kreso Bucar!
Synopsis - A luthier and chemist looks back at two centuries of investigations of violins made during the golden age of violin making in Cremona, and explains the science behind the good vibrations of a Stradivarius

 

Past Talks

Robots and Automation for Chemical Reaction Optimization

Tue11
Jan

18:15

Robots and Automation for Chemical Reaction Optimization

Dr Nessa Carson
18:15, Tuesday 11 January 2022

Join us for a engaging talk by Dr Nessa Carson, a professional organic chemist working with laboratory automation (robots) to perform high-throughput experimentation in the private sector.

Synopsis:
High-throughput experimentation is a growing, enabling technology that allows running large, parallel sets of chemistry experiments. This type of automation is used increasingly in both research and development for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, batteries, and materials chemistry. Often, robotics are used to dispense compounds on milligram to sub-milligram scale, to run many parallel reactions, and to analyse large datasets. The approaches to experimental design, implementation and analysis are distinct from traditional synthetic organic chemistry. The discipline also presents a profitable opportunity for individual scientists to learn about and explore fields adjacent to chemistry, including data science, robotics and equipment engineering, and computer programming.

Communicating With Our Universe

Wed12
Jan

13:00

Communicating With Our Universe

Prof. Claudia de Rham
13:00, Wednesday 12 January 2022

Abstract:

Throughout our history, we have gathered information from the Universe that surrounds us through the light it emits. We have seen the Universe through our own eyes and instruments. The direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015 has marked the beginning of a new era for science where we are now able to hear the Universe. In this event we will discuss how gravitational waves can be used as a privileged channel of communication with the Universe, potentially providing insight on the nature of gravity, the origin of the Universe and the dark components it carries. 

Peering Into the Exciton: Imaging its Electron and Hole Constituents

Tue18
Jan

18:15

Peering Into the Exciton: Imaging its Electron and Hole Constituents

Prof. Keshav Dani
18:15, Tuesday 18 January 2022

Abstract:

In the 1930s, Frenkel, Wannier and others described the existence of a two-particle excitation – an exciton, that forms when an insulator or semiconductor absorbs light. The resulting photoexcited electron binds to the oppositely charged hole creating the exciton.

 

Since then, we have learned that excitons are critical to understanding the optical response of semiconductors and insulators. They impact a variety of interesting phenomena in condensed matter physics, materials systems and opto-electronic devices. However, they have largely been studied using only optical techniques. This leaves an important degree of freedom of the exciton inaccessible – its momentum. For decades, accessing the momentum coordinates of an exciton has been a grand challenge, promising rich knowledge of the exciton. But this is a non-trivial task for a variety of technical and conceptual reasons.

 

Over several years now, we’ve developed novel time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy tools in my lab at OIST that enable us to access the momentum coordinates of the exciton in two-dimensional semiconductors. In this talk, I will discuss what we have learned from such measurements – from making movies of the formation dynamics of dark excitons [1], to visualizing the real and momentum-space distributions of the electron [2] and hole [3] inside the exciton.

 

[1] Science 370, 1199 (2020).

[2] Science Advances 7, eabg0192 (2021).

[3] arXiv:2108.01933 (2021)

 

Revealing the Atomic-Level Structure of Biomolecules in Solution

Tue25
Jan

18:15

Revealing the Atomic-Level Structure of Biomolecules in Solution

Dr Natasha Rhys
18:15, Tuesday 25 January 2022

Join us for a incredible talk by Dr Natasha Rhys, a biophysicist at King’s College London, who researches the structure and properties of biological, material, and drug molecules in solution!

Abstract:

What drives the folding, assembly, and properties of many biological systems is the combination of the structure of the molecule and the solution environment it exists in. Intriguingly, the solvent is often not focused on, with very little information on the atomic level interactions between the biomolecule and solvent. This talk explores how we gain elucidate this information using the technique of neutron diffraction and examples of how it has been used to gain useful insight into systems of biological and pharmaceutical relevance.