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Home > Press > Nanocentre researchers peer into the atomic future

Abstract:
Using the £5.5 million centre's flagship aberration-corrected microscope th one of the world's most powerful th the centre's co-Directors Professor Pratibha Gai, JEOL and Yorkshire Forward Professor of Electron Microscopy and Nanotechnology, and Professor Edward Boyes, have made a major step forward in nanomaterials research.

Nanocentre researchers peer into the atomic future

UK | Posted on December 24th, 2008

Researchers in the York JEOL Nanocentre at the University of York have developed a novel technique to ‘see' how atoms work.

Using the £5.5 million centre's flagship aberration-corrected microscope - one of the world's most powerful - the centre's co-Directors Professor Pratibha Gai, JEOL and Yorkshire Forward Professor of Electron Microscopy and Nanotechnology, and Professor Edward Boyes, have made a major step forward in nanomaterials research.

The microscope has enabled the human eye to see how atoms work in dynamic materials reactions at the Ångstrom scale ( 1 Ångstrom = one tenth of a nanometre; itself one billionth of a metre ). The method is being used to develop high technology fuel cells and catalytic systems for green renewable energy sources, by providing a fundamental understanding of surface structure modifications and their role in property-altering surface reactions.

Modifications to the instrument have formed the technical foundation for major new scientific initiatives in nanomaterials research for use in everything from nanoelectronics, catalysis, medical science and engineering.

In real time, the researchers studied changes in crystallographic phases at the atomic level in ‘living' catalytic reactions for sustainable energy and for climate control, rather than by the conventional methods of making before and after studies of extracted static ( ‘dead' ) samples.

Professor Gai, of the University's Departments of Chemistry and Physics, and Professor Boyes, of the Departments of Physics and Electronics, examined the role of coarsening in bimetallic platinum and palladium nanoparticles on carbon supports in fuel cell devices. Working at the Ångstrom scale, they found striking and previously unknown changes in the support nanostructures influencing the reactions.

Professor Gai and Professor Boyes presented the work, which is one of the world's first in-situ studies at the Angstrom scale, at the quadrennial European Microscopy Society Congress in Aachen, Germany in September 2008. It has been published in the Congress proceedings and in a leading journal, Microscopy Research and Technique ( Wiley-Blackwell ) and Professor Gai, was invited to present the world leading research at the Royal Society in November 2008.

The research has resulted in several awards, including UK-India Education and Research Initiative ( UKIERI ) award to collaborate with the Indian Institute of Science ( IISc ) in Bangalore. The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science ( JSPS ) is providing sponsorship and staff support, including a year long visit by Dr Kenta Yoshida from Nagoya University.

The work is stimulating initiatives in collaboration with the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, which co-sponsors the Nanocentre. Collaboration with the surface chemistry group in the Department of Chemistry is developing nanoscale catalysts for renewable biofuel energy sources from vegetable oils; a topic of keen interest to British and global industry.

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About York JEOL Nanocentre
The York JEOL Nanocentre opened in April 2007 in purpose built accommodation on the York Science Park. The inter-interdisciplinary research and teaching Nanocentre is sponsored by the University of York, Yorkshire Forward, through them the European Union Regional Development Fund, and by scientific instruments supplier JEOL. More information at www.york.ac.uk/res/nanocentre/

JEOL is a leading global supplier of scientific instruments used for research and development in the fields of nanotechnology, life sciences, optical communication, forensics, and biotechnology. Utilizing its unique technologies, products, services, and knowledge, JEOL helps its customers make significant breakthroughs in product development and scientific research. JEOL products include scientific instrumentation and industrial equipment, based on five major product groups.

Yorkshire Forward is the Regional Development Agency behind the economic regeneration of Yorkshire and Humber. It aims to make a positive difference by investing in jobs, improving towns and cities, and in supporting businesses throughout the region.

For more information, please click here

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