Professor Sabine Flitsch's paper "Enzymatic Amine Acyl Exchange in Peptides on Gold Surfaces" has been chosen as a 'hot paper' by the Editors of Angewandte Chemi for its importance in a rapidly evolving field of high current interest. As a hot paper, the table of contents were published on Angewandte Chemie's homepage prior to the publication of the full paper.
Cristian Menzel has won first prize in the Venture Out technology 2012 competition, with his project "Biocide Film", a self-adhesive film that can easily be applied to any surface - providing immediate, long-lasting protection against bacteria and viruses.
Cristian reports that he "had this idea a few years ago and I saw a good opportunity to develop a business based on a technological innovation. The Venture Out Ideas Competition was a good platform to show my idea to judges and attendants who were very interested in the potential application of this material. I am planning to continue with this project in parallel to my PhD research hopefully with the advice of the staff from the MBS."
A group of researchers from Professor Jason Micklefield's lab entered a team for this year's Biotechnology YES competition, a national competition organised by the BBSRC in collaboration with UMIP to encourage enterprise amongst postgraduates.
Overall, 377 people entered across 82 teams at five regional workshops. Professor Micklefield's team won the North-West workshop, beating 14 other teams in November to reach the national final in London on 10th December. At the final they were awarded the Potter Clarkson prize for 'Best Consideration of IP Strategy'.
For more information please see the 2012 Biotechnology YES press release.
Photo: Copyright Tim Gander 2012.
Dr Lu Shin Wong was recently interviewed by The Engineer following his recent EPSRC success with the strategic equipment grant "Large area scanning-probe nanofabrication platform".
"UK researchers are hoping to develop a way of mass-producing smart materials that control the growth of stem cells into different tissues.
Surfaces that are covered in particular nano-scale patterns have been shown to affect what type of tissue stem cells become when grown in a lab, without the need for hormones or other chemicals to direct the process."
For more information please see the full "Device could mass-produce nano-patterned material" article.
Professor Douglas Kell, Professor of Bioanalytical Science in the School of Chemistry and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, has been elected to the prestigious body, which is an honour bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.
This year 702 members have been awarded this honour by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially-distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Professor Kell is one of fewer than 50 UK scientists of nearly 8,000 Fellows recorded on the AAAS website to hold this honour.
For more information see the AAAS Press Release.
Professor Nicholas Turner's Nature Chemistry article "Synthetic cascades are enabled by combining biocatalysts with artificial metalloenzymes" (V. Köhler, Y. M. Wilson, M. Dürrenberger, D. Ghislieri, E. Churakova, R. Quinto, L. Knörr, D. Häussinger, F. Hollmann, N. J. Turner, R. R. Ward) has been receiving write ups in C&E News "Enzymes Play Nicely Together" and Chemistry World "Protein coat prepares catalyst for cascades".
Europe’s largest public-private partnership dedicated to the development of manufacturing sustainable pharmaceuticals has been launched. This project will be led be Professor Nicholas Turner and colleagues with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
The €26.4 (£21.2M) project, CHEM21, brings together six pharmaceutical companies, 13 Universities and four small to medium enterprises from across Europe. The aim is to develop sustainable biological and chemical alternatives to finite materials, such as precious metals, which are currently used as catalysts in the manufacture of medicines.
Introducing biotechnology to the manufacturing processes for medicines will limit the drain on the world’s resources and have a lasting benefit on the environment.
For more information please see the Chem21 Press Release.
The first issue of ChemComm for 2013 includes a review includes a review of 2012. Of their top five most-accessed Feature Articles, two were from the School of Chemistry:
- Michael J. Ingleson and Richard A. Layfield "N-Heterocyclic carbene chemistry
of iron: fundamentals and applications" (10.1039/c2cc18021a)
- Karthik Ramasamy, Mohammad A. Malik and Paul O'Brien "Routes to copper zinc tin sulfide Cu2ZnSnS4 a potential material for solar cells" (10.1039/c2cc30792h)
Chemical exfoliation of graphite is a low-cost and mass scalable method to produce graphene. One of the most used approaches is based on the production of graphene oxide in water. However, a substantial number of defects are introduced during the oxidation process. Thus, high quality graphene dispersions cannot be produced. On the other hand, liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite in organic solvents has been reported as a promising route for production of high quality graphene dispersions. However, this requires the use of organic solvents, which are expensive, toxic, and difficult to remove.
In this work Dr Cinzia Casiraghi's group uses a chemical approach based on supra-molecular and non-covalent interactions between graphene and 1-pyrenesulfonic acid sodium salt in water to obtain a stable dispersion of high quality graphene. Being completely water-based, these suspensions can be used as inks for printable tattoo-based electro-chemical sensors.
This work has just been accepted in Carbon (Yang et al, DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2012.11.022)
The University of Manchester has won a significant share of £20million of Government funding for research work that will help revolutionise major industries in bioenergy and biotechnology.
The two sLoLa grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) were announced in November by the Chancellor, George Osborne. They will fund research work taking place at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.
Professor Nicholas Turner has been awarded £4.4million from the BBSRC to work on identifying biological alternatives to chemicals that are currently derived from fossil fuels. The funding adds to a £500,000 grant from the pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline which will be working in collaboration with Professor Turner.
Professor Jason Micklefield will be working with colleagues at the universities of Warwick, Bristol and Cambridge on the second BBSRC grant of £4.5million. The money is also partnered by a £500,000 grant from the agrochemical company Syngenta. The research, to understand more about how the beneficial compounds in microorganisms can be exploited to develop new agricultural chemicals.
For more information please see the BBSRC sLoLa press release.
The Nuclear FiRST DTC was shortlisted for a communication award at the National Energy Awards. They were shortlisted alongside EDF energy, The Crown Estate and Tullow Oil. The DTC was the only university entry in the list of finalists. They were awarded one of the three Highly Commended Awards, which was in recognition of their outstanding outreach and public engagement activities since 2009, which has included the National EPSRC IMPACT exhibition at the Royal College of Arts in London and representing EPSRC at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Colin Jackson presented the awards to Sarah Heath at a Black Tie dinner at a hotel on London’s Park Lane.
Kwong Kit Chan and Vasudevan Ramesh have recently published the article "Conserved RNA motifs of EMCV IRES as potential building blocks to design RNA nanostructures" in ChemComm.
RNA nanotechnology is rapidly emerging as an important ﬁeld of investigation due to its potential applications in nanomedicine such as in the treatment of cancer, viral infections and genetic diseases. RNA molecules have a propensity to adopt a variety of stable, well folded tertiary structures which in turn can be used to select suitable building blocks to design and fabricate nanostructures with applications in medicine and other technologies.
The highly conserved secondary structural RNA motifs endowed by the IRES element of EMCV picornavirus provide an excellent platform to design RNA nanostructures. We have successfully applied multidimensional NMR and other biophysical techniques to identify and provide evidence for a very stable 44mer RNA, hosting distinct 15mer and 11mer RNA stem loop motifs and called a 4-way junction, as a potential building block for the design of RNA nanostructures.
Chem. Commun., 2012, 48 (94), 11573 – 11575 (DOI: 10.1039/c2cc36034a)
Professor Patrick O'malley's article "Hydrogen bonding between the QB site ubisemiquinone and Ser-L223 in the bacterial reaction centre – a combined spectroscopic and computational perspective" was selected to be highlighted on Biochemistry’s home page.
A new ground breaking £1.2 million centre to research the decontamination and safe storage of nuclear waste is being established at The University of Manchester in partnership with Sellafield Ltd.
The centre will support Sellafield Ltd’s Decontamination and Effluent Treatment Centre of Expertise by complimenting the university’s existing research work at the world leading Dalton Nuclear Institute. It will also build on the research programmes at the University’s Centre for Radiochemistry Research and the Research Centre for Radwaste and Decommissioning.
The aim of the collaboration is to develop new technologies, as well as enhance current understanding of key existing nuclear technologies and develop effective and sustainable decontamination approaches.
Dr Nick Bryan from the School of Chemistry says: "The new centre is an opportunity for the University to enhance its nuclear research and to strengthen its links with a vital part of the nuclear industry. It will form part of The Dalton Nuclear Institute, which was established to foster collaboration across conventional discipline boundaries to allow interdisciplinary approaches to nuclear research challenges."
The establishment of this industry leading centre demonstrates the commitment of the University to support industry research and development needs.
For more information please see the full Sellafield press release.
28 November 2012, 2pm
Chemistry Building G.54
(to be followed by afternoon tea)
Over the past few years some of the first examples of synthetic molecular level machines and motors—all be they primitive by biological standards—have been developed. These molecules respond to light, chemical and electrical stimuli, inducing motion of components held together by hydrogen bonding or other weak interactions.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the technological potential of controlled molecular-level motion is to recognise that nanomotors and molecular-level machines lie at the heart of every significant biological process. Over billions of years of evolution Nature has not repeatedly chosen this solution for achieving complex task performance without good reason. In stark contrast to biology, none of mankind’s fantastic myriad of present day technologies exploit controlled molecular-level motion in any way at all: every catalyst, every material, every polymer, every pharmaceutical, every chemical reagent, all function exclusively through their static or equilibrium dynamic properties. When we learn how to build artificial structures that can control and exploit molecular level motion, and interface their effects directly with other molecular-level substructures and the outside world, it will potentially impact on every aspect of functional molecule and materials design. An improved understanding of physics and biology will surely follow.
Professor Roy Goodacre and Dr Cinzia Casiraghi's paper 2p or not 2p: tuppence-based SERS for the detection of illicit materials has had an RSC Chemistry World Blog. In this paper Professor Roy Goodacre's team "altered the surface of a copper two pence piece with silver to make it suitable for the vibrational spectroscopic technique surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), which they then used to differentiate between the drugs: 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone), 5,6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane (MDAI) and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA)."
Professor Sabine Flitsch and Dr Simon Webb have had a JACS spotlight on their recent article Accelerated Enzymatic Galactosylation of N-Acetylglucosaminolipids in Lipid Microdomains: "It is well known among biologists that cellular membranes are not homogeneous. Certain proteins and lipids tend to segregat themselves into 'rafts', patches of relatively high local concentration on the vast cell surface. The functional consequence that such rafts have on soluble enzymes and other molecules that interact with the membrane has been unclear, however. Now Simon Webb and colleagues address this question for an artificial N-acetylated lipid and the glycosyltransferase that acts upon it."
Professor Nicholas Turner's Group have a paper coming out soon (Koehler et al., Nat. Chem. 2012, 4 in press) entitled: New Synthetic Cascades by Combining Biocatalysts with Artificial Metalloenzymes. This paper describes the combination of biocatalysts with synthetic enzymes, via molecular compartmentalization, to enable novel synthetic pathways.
Professor Turner's group have also recently signed a license agreement, with a pharmaceutical company, covering, 2 patents filed with the Free University of Amsterdam. These patents cover new synthetic routes to drugs for treatment of Hepatitis C (telaprevir & boceprevir).
As part of my "half-sabbatical", I had the rare opportunity of spending six engaging weeks in April-May 2012 at the State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs (SKLNBD) in Peking University, Beijing, China. It was indeed a memorable visit and in addition to discussing shared research interests with the Faculty and successfully setting up a joint research collaboration on novel RNA-binding drugs, I had the proud academic privilege of delivering a lecture course (8x2hr) on NMR Spectroscopy and its application in Chemistry and Biology to the bright and talented postgraduate students (~25) at Peking University. Needless to say, and true to their tradition and pursuit of excellence, the students scored over 80% marks at the impromptu examination that I set after the course. It was a pleasant surprise and honour to me to be conferred on the title 'Visiting Lecturer 2012' by the Peking University and awarded by the distinguished Professor Li He Zhang.I am most grateful to Professor Xinshan Ye, Director of SKLNBD, for hosting my visit and generously sponsoring my travel, accommodation and other living expenses. I also thank the Faculty and postgraduate students at SKLNBD for their keen interest, enthusiasm and cheerful support extended to me throughout the period of my stay at Beijing.
Mr Gregory Price has been awarded a 12-month University of Manchester 2012 EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship (The EPSRC Doctoral Prize is a prestigious scheme aimed at developing the very best EPSRC funded students beyond the end of their PhD and help them launch a successful career in research.) Greg, who has been working on gold systems in catalysis under the supervision of first Kevin Flower, and latterly Alan Brisdon and Peter Quayle, will use his Fellowship to investigate novel functionalised metallocarbenes and their biological activity.
Peter Harvey has been awarded a 12-month UoM EPSRC Doctoral Prize fellowship to come to The University of Manchester. Peter has been studying for his PhD at The University of Durham with Professor David Parker developing new lanthanide based fluorinated molecules for magnetic resonance biological imaging. He will join the groups of Louise Natrajan and Sam Hay (MIB) in January 2013 and will develop a new class of luminescent enzyme biosensors based on upconverting lanthanide nanoparticles.
The BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM) will see the University of Manchester working with other world-class institutions and with BP to lead research into the fundamental science of advanced materials and their potential applications in the energy industry. At £64m over ten years, the Centre is BP’s second-largest external R&D investment and is expected to lead to new posts for around 25 academics, 80 post-doctoral researchers and 100 PhD students.
Manchester was chosen as the BP-ICAM Hub after a rigorous selection process, with BP highlighting the University’s core strengths in materials, engineering and collaborative working and its track record in breakthrough research and engineering applications. Three universities were also selected as "Spokes" – the University of Cambridge, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Imperial College, London.
The structure of water, whether pure or in a solution, is a longstanding and controversial issue and is one of Science Magazine's 125 big questions facing scientific enquiry. The consensus view that water has a distorted tetrahedral structure is incomplete because it fails to specify what "distorted" means. Dr Richard Henchman with former PhD student Dr Irudayam have made two recent advances in this area. Firstly, in 2010 they determined a model for the structure of water that makes clear the nature of this distortion (R. H. Henchman and S. J. Irudayam, J. Phys. Chem. B , 2010, 114, 16792). In addition to the expected tetrahedral coordination and bifurcated-hydrogen transition state, they identified moderately stable trigonal and trigonal bipyramidal coordinations as well as unstable bifurcated oxygen and cyclic dimer arrangements. This determination was made possible by their deriving a definition of a hydrogen bond that could resolve transition states between different hydrogen-bond configurations, something previously not possible with other approaches. Secondly, in a more recent paper (S. J. Irudayam and R. H. Henchman, J. Chem. Phys., 2012, 137, 034508), they found that solutes perturb the structure of all water molecules in a solution and not just those molecules nearby as is commonly believed. This perturbation manifests itself as a change in the distribution of the different configurations from that in pure water. It diminishes, as expected, with distance from the solute but never reaches zero.
Professor David Leigh’s group have made the first synthetic walking molecules that move directionally along molecular tracks. The ultimate goal of such research is to produce artificial molecular vehicles that can transport cargoes and perform other complex tasks at the nanoscale. However, such ‘molecular engineering’ is not easy: at the molecular level gravity is too weak to hold the walkers onto tracks and special molecular glue, footholds and attachment points all have to be carefully designed to make a successful walking molecule.
Professor Roy Goodacre's critical review "Fingerprinting food: current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination" is the inside cover feature for the September 2012 edition of Chemistry Society Reviews (PDF).
David I. Ellis, Victoria L. Brewster, Warwick B. Dunn, J. William Allwood, Alexander P. Golovanov and Royston Goodacre. "Fingerprinting food: current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination" Chemical Society Reviews 41:17 (5569–5868).
Congratulations to Dr Michael Ingleson who was awarded the an ERC starter grant for the project: Lewis Acidic Borocations: improving Suzuki couplings, Material synthesis, Alkylation and Radical Transformations (1,267,160.50 EUR).
In Dr Cinzia Casiraghi's groups' recent publication they have used graphene bubbles to study biaxial strain in graphene and to measure its Gruneisen parameters. These are in excellent agreement with theoretical values. Discrepancy in the previously reported experimental parameters is attributed to the interaction of graphene with the substrate. This has been confirmed by using bilayer balloons (pressurized membranes) in order to avoid the effect of the substrate and to study the dependence of strain on the interlayer interactions. The group found that a relatively small strain (~1%) does not alter the AB-stacking configuration. No strong dependence of the Gruneisen parameter with the number of layers has been observed.
Dr Cinzia Casiraghi's research group have been analysing the nature of defects in graphene. Raman spectroscopy has been widely used to study defects in graphitic materials. However, little is known about the dependence of the defects-activated Raman peaks on the nature of defects.
This is because it is difficult experimentally to introduce specific and controlled amount of defects in graphitic materials such as graphite and carbon nanotubes. On the other side, the 2-Dimensional nature of graphene makes it easy to add, remove or move carbon atoms. For instance, sp3 sites can be introduced by chemical modification, while atomic vacancies can be introduced by ion-bombardment.
In this work we show a detailed analysis of the Raman spectrum of graphene containing different type of defects (sp3 sites, vacancies, and grain boundaries). We show that at moderate defect concentration the intensity ratio between the D and D' peak is sensitive only to the nature of the defect. This makes Raman Spectroscopy a powerful tool to fully characterize disorder in graphene.
More info: Eckman et al, Nano Lett. ASAP, DOI:10.1021/nl300901a
Dixit Parmar has been selected for the "Roche Symposium - Leading Chemists" (PDF) symposium to be held in Basle from 27-28 September 2012.
This competition held annually and is open to candidates worldwide. This is a very competitive event, and only 12 candidates were selected from several hundred applications.
The prize for the winners includes: Flights, 4* hotel accommodation for 5 days, a tour of the facilities, and an opportunity to present your research as a talk.
Congratulations Alex Rogerson (a 3rd year Chemistry postgraduate) has won a £100 poster prize at the RSC Younger Members' Network meeting.
Richard has also recieve a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers for a 8-Month Visit to Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies from January - September 2013.
Image: Richard Henchman in from of Goethe's house in Weimar.
The official announcement of the election was made at the RSC AGM on 4th July 2912(Burlington House) and details were published in RSCNews.
Professor Leigh recently made the move to Manchester to take up a position as Professor of Organic Chemistry. He is a world leader in the field of synthetic molecular motors, machines and nanotechnology.
For more information please see the Royal Society honours University of Manchester academics press release.
Professor Douglas Kell has been reappointed as Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of BBSRC for a further year. The announcement below was made by BBSRC. During this extended secondment Professor Kell will continue 0.2 FTE as Research Chair in Bioanalytical Science and will return to a full-time position at the University of Manchester in October 2013.
For more information please see the BBSRC press release.
Dr Louise Natrajan's group had a stall at the Jodrell Bank Live music festival. In this outreach event thre group showed the audience chemical compounds that glow in the dark, including a test for blood that they use on the TV programme CSI. They also demonstrated the chemistry of glowsticks and showed that radioactivity is all around us and is safe i.e. in bananas and low salt and in uranium glass.
"N-Heterocyclic carbene chemistry of iron: fundamentals and applications" is making impact, and was one of ChemComm's top ten accessed articles in March 2012.
Congratulations to Dr. Mike Ingleson on being awarded the 2012 RSC Harrison-Meldola Prize for his innovative work in borocation chemistry, particularly the borylation of arenes.
Scott France, an undergraduate at Manchester, has been awarded the Salters’ Graduate Prize 2012. Up to 10 prizes are offered annually to exceptional undergraduate students in their final year of study studying at UK universities in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Scott was awarded the prize following an interview on his thoughts and ideas on the chemical industry, the challenges and solutions over the next decade. He will receive a personal prize of £1,000. This is an excellent achievement.
After graduation, Scott is off to do a PhD in Cambridge with Ian Paterson.
Professor Paul O'Brien will be speaking on Entrapreneurship at the Royal Society Leverhulme Africa Programme workshop in Accra, Ghana, on Monday 26th March 2012.
AREVA, the global nuclear power industry leader and a major player in the renewable energy sector, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Dalton Nuclear Institute.
Benjamin Lidster, 2nd year PhD student in Professor Michael Turner's group working on cyclic conjugated polymers, has been awarded a fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Benjamn will go and work in the group of Professor Y. Tezuka (Department of Organic and Polymeric Materials, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan). The fellowship starts at the beginning of September 2012 for 4 months. Benjamin will be using the equipment/expertise that they have Tokyo Institute of Technology to improve his synthesis/better characterise his polymers.
Professor Francis Livens has been invited to participate in an advisory board for UK nuclear research, being set up by Government in response to a recent House of Lords Inquiry. The board will be chaired by John Beddington (Government Chief Scientific Adviser) and will both review the current state of UK nuclear R&D and guide development of a nuclear R&D roadmap for the UK, all by the end of 2012.
The Queen presented The University of Manchester with an award in recognition of the quality of its work in the nuclear field at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace last week.
Professor Paul O'Brien's work on the electronic and surface properties of PbS nanoparticles exhibiting efficient multiple exciton generation has been selected as a contribution for the Surface & Interface Scientific Section in the SOLEIL's 2011 Highlights Report.
Dr Lu Shin Wong is a co-author of a recently published article "Scanning probe-enabled nanocombinatorics define the relationship between fibronectin feature size and stem cell fate" in PNAS.
The University of Manchester is pleased to announce that Professor David Leigh (FRS), one of the world's foremost organic chemists, will be joining the School of Chemistry later in the year.